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Full text of "Familiar letters. [Edited by David Douglas"

FAMILIAR LETTERS 



OF 



SIR WALTER SCOTT 



VOL. I 



" It was a barren scene, and wild, 
Where naked cliffs were rudelyjriled ; 
But ever and anon between 
Lay velvet tufts of loveliest green ; 
And well the lonely infant knew 
Eecesses where the wall-flower grew, 
And honeysuckle loved to crawl 
Up the low crag and ruin'd wall." 1 

Marmion, Canto in. 

1 Smailholm Tower, situated among a cluster of wild rocks about two miles from 
Dryburgh, was the scene of Sir Walter's infancy. 




4 



7 



ifflQILI : ELEETTTTtEIM: 



QG3. W^tLTTE^ §(g®W, 



^©1 





A 



The lonely hill,. "the rooky lower 

Which charmed my fancy's wakening Iloup. 




Mar-rrcia-ru- 



EDINBURGH, DAVID DOUGLAS 
1 8 9 4 . 






S3B¥ 

IffH- 



PREFACE 

When I was requested by the Hon. Mrs. Maxwell 
Scott to make a selection for publication from 
the correspondence preserved at Abbotsford. it 
was intended that the volumes now given to the 
public should be confined to letters addressed by 
Sir Walter to members of his own family ; but other 
letters which passed between him and some of his 
dearest friends having, through the courtesy of their 
representatives, been placed at my disposal, I felt 
that they would add greatly to the interest of the 
work, and many of them have accordingly been 
introduced. 

I have done little jmore than arrange the corre- 
spondence in' chronological order, supplying where 
necessary a slight thread of continuity by annotation 
and illustration. It need not be said that there is no 
attempt at a Biography — that has been done once 
for all ; and this selection must therefore be regarded 
as forming a supplement to the great work of Sir 
Walter's son-in-law. Indeed, my chief motive for 
undertaking it was the following paragraph in Mr. 



vi PEEFACE 

Lockhart's preface to his abridged edition of 1848 : 
— " I should have been more willing to produce an 
" enlarged edition ; for the interest of Sir Walter's 
" history lies, I think, peculiarly in its minute details 
" — especially in the details set down by himself in 
" his letters and diaries ; and of course after the 
" lapse of ten years more copious use might be made 
" of those materials without offence or indecorum." 

The period covered by the present volumes is 
from 1797, the year of Sir Walter's marriage, to 
1825, when he commenced his Journal. 

All the letters are believed to be printed now 
for the first time, except where otherwise stated. 

I am deeply indebted to the Lady Napier and 
Ettrick for her permission to print the very in- 
teresting series of letters addressed to her aunt, 
the Marchioness of Abercorn : to the Duke of 
Buccleuch for the Buccleuch and Montagu letters ; 
and to the venerable Mr. W. H. Baillie for those 
addressed to his aunt, Joanna Baillie. 

My thanks are also due to Mrs. Morritt for 
letters from Rokeby; to Miss Richardson for the 
use of the letters to her father ; to the Senatus of 
the University of Edinburgh for access to the mss. 
in their library; to Miss Maria Skene for the use 
of her grandfather's "Reminiscences"; and to 
many other friends who have willingly given me 
their assistance. 



PREFACE vii 

The portrait is taken from Chantrey's bust, now 
at Abbotsford, which according to Lockhart " alone 
preserves for posterity the cast of expression most 
fondly remembered by all who ever mingled in his 
domestic circle." This has been engraved at the 
suggestion of Sir George Reid, who has also 
contributed the two vignettes, which are from 
drawings specially made by him on the spot. 

D. D. 



Edinburgh, 22 Drummond Place, 
October 7, 1893. 



CONTENTS. 



VOL. I. 
CHAPTER I.— 1797-1804. 



To Miss Carpenter — 

Courtship and Marriage, p. 3-9 
Appointed Sheriff of Selkirk- 
shire, . .... 4 

To Patrick Murray — 

Anticipated Gazette Extra- 
ordinary, . . . .9-10 
Miss Carpenter described, . 10 
Residence at Lasswade Cot- 
tage, 11 

To William Laidlaw, . . 11 

From James Hogg— 

The Ettrick Shepherd's First 
Letter to Scott, . . .12-15 

To Miss Seward — 
Border Minstrelsy 



of, 15 



Publishing by subscription, 

Ballad of Cadyow Castle, 

Ladies of Llangollen, 

Border Minstrelsy, 3rd vol. : 
preparation, 
To Charles Carpenter — 

Daughter Anne born, . 

John Leyden's genius and de- 
parture for India, . . 18-19 

Home and Foreign Politics, . 20-1 
To Lady Dalkeith— 

Tamlane, .... 

First allusion to the Lay of 
the Last Minstrel, 

Feuds between the clans of 
Scott and Kerr, . 

Burning of the Chapel of St. 
Mary, . 



22 



22 



23 



23 



CHAPTER II.— 1805-1806. 



To Wordsworth — 




Reception of the Lay in 




Wreck of the Abergavenny, . 


27 


London, .... 


33 


First meeting with Words- 




On the death of Pitt, 


33 


worth and his sister, . 


27 


To Leyden — 




Publication of the Lay, 


28 


Anxiety regarding Leyden's 




Wordsworth's lines on Yarrow 




health and work in India, . 


34 


Unvisited, .... 


28-9 


Family news, 


34-5 


Ashestiel, .... 


29 


Lasswade Cottage and Ashes- 




From Jeffrey — 




tiel, 


35 


On the death of his wife, 


30-1 


4th edition of the Lay 




To Miss Nicholson — 




published, .... 


36 


Birth of son Charles, 


31 


At work on Dryden's Works, . 
Camp, Scott's favourite dog, . 


36 

36 


From Lord Dalkeith — 




George Ellis's Romances, 


37 


Official appointment as Clerk 




Ballantyne and Constable, 


37 


of Session, .... 


32-3 


Lord Minto appointed Gover- 




Border Hist, suggested, 


32 


nor-General of Bengal, 


38 



CONTENTS 



TO SOUTHEY — 

Visit to London, . . p 

Southey's History of Portugal, 

A Tweedside reminiscence, . 
To Miss Seward — 

The Lay, a retrospect, . 

Wordsworth and Southey 
characterised, 

Madoc and Thalaba, 

Jeffrey as a critic and social 
companion at Windermere, 
To Lady Dalkeith — 

Ettrick Shepherd recom- 
mended as a land valuer, . 

Hogg's reply and criticism on 
the Lay, .... 
To Lady Abercorn— 

Connection with the Abercorn 
family, .... 

Domestic intelligence — occu- 
pation at Ashestiel, ' . 

Literary and official engage- 
ments, .... 

Song on Lord Melville's Ac- 
quittal, and letter from Lady 
Rosslyn, .... 

Ashestiel and its surround- 
ings, 

The amenities of out-door life, 

Lord and Lady Melville, 

W. Stewart Rose on the per- 
secution of the Princess of 
Wales, .... 
From Jeffrey — 

Requesting contributions to 
the Edinburgh Review, 

Literary and social gossip — 



38 
39 
39 

40 

40 
41-2 

42 



42-4 



44 



44-5 



45 



46 



46-8 

48-9 
49 
50 



50-1 



51-3 



52-3 



54 



W. Erskine, Thomas Thom- 
son, .... p. 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Storms, floods, and destruc- 
tion of property, 

Judge Fox — Charles James 
Fox, and Pitt contrasted — 
Pitt's approval of Scott's 
poetry, .... 

At work on Dryden, 

To Lord Dalkeith — 

The state of the Borders be- 
fore the accession of James 
vi., 

Conversion of the Borders 
into sheep-walks, . 59-60 

Contrast between the depopu- 
lation on the Border and in 
the Highlands, . 

To Adam Ferguson — 

Braxfield and Maconochie, . 

Jersey entertainments con- 
trasted with Cardrona hos- 
pitality, .... 

Clerk Scott's Decisions, . 

Story of the murder of Begbie 
the Bank porter, 

Separation of old friends, 

From Adam Ferguson — 

Military life and society at 
Jersey, .... 

To Robert Surtees — 
Jacobite Rebellions of 1715 
and '45, .... 
Personal recollections, . 
Early reference to Waverley, 



57-9 



-1 



62 



63-4 



65-6 



66-7 

66-7 

67 



CHAPTER III.— 1807. 



To Miss Seward — 
Hogg's Mountain Bard re- 
commended, 
Marmion and Dryden, . 
Chaucer, Spenser, and Dry- 
den's styles characterised, 
From W. S. Rose— 

Dedication of the 1st canto of 



Marmion, 



71 
71-2 

72-3 



To Lady Abercorn — 

Elections and electors, . . 74-5 
Visits Lichfield — Scott de- 
scribed by Miss Seward, . 74-5 
Reflected glory, ... 75 
Progress of Marmion, . . 75-6 

To Miss Seward — 

Embarrassment of his brother's 



. 73-4 



affairs, 



. 76-7 



CONTENTS 



XI 



To Miss Smith — 

Friendly cautions and advice, p. 78-9 
To Lady Abercorn — 

Brother's affairs set in order, 80 
Duchess of Bedford, 80 

Excursion to Bothwell Castle 
— hurricane, and perilous 
journey home, . . .81 
Cancelled lines on Fox. Sug- 
gestions of Lord Abercorn, 82 
To Miss Seward — 

Law of self-preservation, . 83 
Laird of Keir's butler, . . 83 
Hardships of a shepherd's life 
in the winter, . . . 83-4 



Hogg's Mountain Bard, . p. 83 

Dislike to reviewing Poetry, . 84 
Coplestone and Jeffrey, . . 84 
Southey inferior to Words- 
worth in conversation, . 85 
From Lady Louisa Stuart — 
Story of the Muncaster cup 
and King Henry vi. , . . 85-6 
To Lady Louisa Stuart — 
" Scotland ever kind to ban- 
ished princes," and Mon- 
sieur's entry to Holyrood, . 87 
From Lady Louisa Stuart — 
The Knight of Muncaster and 
the Luck thereof, . . 88 



CHAPTER IV.— 1808. 



To Lady Abercorn — 

Letters of Burns and Clar- 
inda, * 

Franking explained, 

Marmion published, 

Scottish Judicature Commis- 
sion, ..... 

Emigration of the House of 
Braganza, .... 
To Charles Carpenter — 

Domestic and political gossip, 94-5 

Lord Minto as Governor-Gen- 
eral, 

To Southey — 

An unconscious plagiarism, . 

Remains of H. K. White, 

Letters from a spy, 
To Lady Louisa Stuart — 

Remarks on the death of Con- 
stance, and Marmion's last 
moments, . 
To Miss Smith — 

Mrs. Siddons, 

Recommends Joanna Baillie's 
Tragedies, .... 

Charles Mayne Young, . 
To Lady Abercorn — 

Whig Criticisms on Marmion 

Reasons for preferring edi- 
torial work to original pro- 
duction, . . . 100-1 



91-2 
91 
93 

93 

94 



95-6 

96-7 
97 
97 



. 98-9 

. 99 

99 
100 

100 



Lord Melville — Duchess of 
Gordon, . . . .102 

Death of Lord Scott, . . 102 

Dryderfs Life and Works pub- 
lished, . . . .102 

The Morning Chronicle on 
Marmion, .... 103 

Complimented by the Princess 
of Wales, . . . .103 

TO SURTEES — 

Prince Charles Edward, "that 
wandering knight so fair," 104 

Comparison of Marmion and 
the Lay, . . . .104 

Jeffrey's review of Marmion, 104 

From Joanna Baillie — 

Criticism on the House of 
Aspen, . . . 105-6 

From Lady Louisa Stuart — 
" A foolish fuss about a foolish 
fib," .... 107-9 

To Lady Louisa Stuart — 
Ugly Meg, the origin of the 
story, . . . 110-2 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Winter in Spring, . . .112 
Home politics — Sotheby's new 

poem, .... 113 

Lawrence's approbation of 
Marmion, . . . .113 



Xll 



CONTENTS 



Mrs. Riddell of Hampton 
Court, . . . p. 113 

Miss Lydia White, . .114 

Plan of writing — promises 
greater care, . . .114 

"A most ungracious of 
Graces," . . . .115 

A publisher's acknowledg- 
ment, ..... 115 

Gives up assisting Jeffrey, . 116 

Scottish Judicature Bill, . 116 
To Thomas Scott— 

Brother's affairs, . . 116-7 

An exhortation to diligence in 
literary labour, . . .117 

Lord Somers's Tracts and 
Swift, . . . 117-8 

To Lady Abercorn — 

First meeting with Morritt, . 118 

Secretary to Commission on 
Scotch Jurisprudence, . 118 

Longing to visit Spain, . . 119 



To Morritt— 

Discussion on Bishop Bell's 
Monument, . . p. 120-3 

Sculptured stones of Scot- 
land, .... 121-122 

Mr. and Mrs. Morritt de- 
scribed, .... 121 

To Lady Abercorn— 

Family losses at the Priory, . 123 

On Dedications, . . . 124 

Spanish scheme, . . . 124 

To Miss Seward — 

Dryden reviewed in the Edin- 
burgh Review, . . .125 
Resolves to please his own 
generation, . . .126 

To Joanna Baillie — 

An absurd rumour — Bannock- 
burn, 127 

Opinion of Jeffrey as a critic, 128 



CHAPTER V.— 1809. 



To Patrick Murray — 

Establishment of the Quar- 
terly Review, . . p. 131-2 
Projection of the Edinburgh 
Annual Register, . 131-2 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Professional business in Lon- 
don, .... 132-3 

To SOCTHEY — 

British Librarian, . . . 133 
Literary projects, . . 133-4 

Wishes Sou they to accompany 

him to Edinburgh, . 134-5 

Canning's desire to serve 

Southey, . . . 135-6 

New Edinburgh theatre, . 137 
Queen Orraca, . . . 137 
To Morritt — 

Visit to Rokeby, . . .138 
Curse of Moy, . . .139 
Dissatisfaction with Gifford's 
management of the Quar- 
terly, 139 



To Lady Louisa Stuart— 
An invitation to Ashestiel, 



140-1 



To Lady Abercorn — 

Reflections on London visit, 141-2 
Knowle, . . . .142 

Thoughts of visiting Ireland, 142 

To Joanna Baillie — 

Progressof the Family Legend, 142-3 
H. Mackenzie — H. Siddons — 

and theatrical affairs, 143-5 

New Edinburgh theatre, . 145 

To Morritt — 

Continued dissatisfaction with 
the Quarterly, . . . 145 

Sonnet " To my mistress's eye- 
brow," . . . .146 

To Southey — 

Canning, Ellis, and Southey, 146-7 
Morte d' Arthur, . . .147 
The historiographer's office, . 147 



CONTENTS 



Xlll 



Lord Valentia and Bruce's 
travels, ... p. 148 

Excursion to the Highlands 
suggests a new poem, . 149 

Prince and Princess of Wales, 150 

Duchess of Gordon at Kinrara, 150 

From Surtees — 

Story of the brown man of the 
muirs, . . . 151-2 

To Surtees— 

Bartram and the Liddesdale 
broken cross, . . 152-3 

To Lady Louisa Stuart— 
Lady of the Lake in prepara- 
tion 153-4 



To Mrs. Thomas Scott— 

Home news, ... p. 154 

Death of Dr. Adam of the 

High School, . . .155 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Scene of the Lady of the Lake, 155-6 

Lord Clarendon, . . . 156 

The "0. P. Riots," . . 156 

Politics, . . . .157 

Duchess of Gordon, . . 157 

The Hon. Robert Dundas, . 157 

From Lord Minto — 

Dr. Leyden's abilities appre- 
ciated, . . . 157-8 



CHAPTER VL— 1810. 



From Leyden — 

Dissertation on the Chinese 
language, . . . 161-2 

Lord Minto as Governor of 
India, .... 161 

Marmion and the Lay in Cal- 
cutta, .'"*'. . .162 

Dr. Leyden sketched by Lord 
Minto, . . . 163-4 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Review of Miss Owenson's Ida 
of Athens in the Quarterly, 164-5 

Scott as a reviewer — Melville 
— Canning, . . .165 

Rehearsal of the Family Le- 
gend, . . . . .166 

Price paid for the Lady of the 
Lake — dedicated to Lord 
Abercorn, . . . .166 

First and second love, . . 167 
To Joanna Baillie — 

Success of the Family Legend, 167-8 
To Lady Abercorn — 

Difficulty in finishing the Lady 
of the Lake, . . . 169 

Dissatisfaction with the Go- 
vernment and his official 
position, . . . .170 



Lady Castlereagh's collection 
of Swift's letters, . 170-1 

To Surtees — 

Lambton worm, . . . 171 
Extinct animals, . . .172 
"Behemoth," the water bull 
in Scotland, . . .172 

To Joanna Baillie — 

Dedication of the Family 

Legend, . . . .173 
Mrs. Siddons in Jane de Mon- 

fort, .... 173-4 

Whigs and Pittites, . .174 
Illustrations to Scott's poems, 175 
Lady of the Lake published, . 176 
Lord Meadowbank, . .176 
Rev. James Grahame, . 176-7 

To Thomas Scott — 

Reduction of the Militia, . 177 

Spread of democracy, . 177-8 

Manx customs, . . .178 

Hunting of the wren, . . 178 

To Morritt — 

Criticism of the Lady of the 

Lake, 179 

Library table, . . . 180 
London mobs, . . .180 



XIV 



CONTENTS 



To Joanna Baillie — 

Duke of Cumberland's adven- 
ture, .... p. 181-2 

Mrs. Scott's unwillingness to 
write English, . . . 182 

Mrs. Hunter, . . .182 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Reception of the Lady of the 
Lake, 183 

Projected visit to the Heb- 
rides, .... 183-5 

Lady Castlereagh declines to 
give copies of Swift's letters, 184 

Sir Francis Burdett committed 
to the Tower, . . .184 
From Jeffrey — 

Admits needless asperity in 
his review of Marmion, 185-6 

Criticism of Lady of the Lake, 186 
To Lady Abercorn — 

Fingal's cave, . . 186-7 

Wretched state of Iona, 187-8 

Complimentary speech by a 
StafFa boatman, . . .188 

Popularity of the Lady of the 

Lake, 188 

To Miss Smith — 

Procrastination, . . .189 

Highland tour, . . 189-90 

The English, Scotch, and Irish, 191 



To Morritt — 

Death of James Stanley, p. 191-2 
Johnson's verses, . . . 192 
Review of Marmion, . .192 
Southey's History of 1809, . 193 
To Lady Abercorn — 

Fiorin grass and water mea- 
dows, . . . . 193-5 
Dry den's letters, . . .195 
Nobody in tovm, . . . 195 
Dinner according to the ancient 

Caledonian fashion, . . 196 
Monks of Bangor, and other 
verses, .... 196 
To Miss Smith — 

Lady of the Lake dramatised, 196-9 
Original of Blanche of Devon 

— Scene in Glencoe, . . 197 
The Highland plaid, . 198-9 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Edinburgh theatre dispute, . 200 
Mrs. Henry Siddons, . . 200 
To Joanna Baillie— 

The King's health, . . 201 
Sir John Sinclair's suggestion 
for a new poem to be called 
the Lady of the Sea, and for 
a new play, . . 202-3 

Not insensible to the applause 
of a crowded theatre, . 203 



CHAPTER VII.— 1811. 



To Lady Abercorn — 

Too poor and impatient to 
keep ms. poetry long in 
hand, 207 

Difficulty in the choice of a 
subject, .... 207 

Politics and the King's 
health, . . . .208 

The Duke of Argyle's mar- 
riage, 208 

Lady Charlotte Campbell, . 208 

Scheme of visiting Portugal, 208-9 

Anecdotes and pedigree of 
Camp, . . . 209-10 

Raeburn's portrait, . . 210 



To Miss Smith — 

Mrs. H. Siddons as Ellen in 

the Lady of the Lake, . 211 

The Knight of Snowdoun, . 211 
Daniel Terry as Roderick 

Dhu, .... 212 

Lay of the Last Minstrel 

dramatised, . . .212 

Dramatic costume for Witch 

Dame of Branksome, . .212 
Wat of Harden and the " wild 

boar of Falshope," . . 213 
Stage costume, . . . 213 
General depravity of dramatic 

taste, 214 



CONTENTS 



xv 



To Lady Abercorn — 

Origin of the Vision of Don 

Roderick, ... p. 214-5 
"Silver and gold have I 

none," .... 215 
Income and expenditure, . 216 

To J. Dusautoy— 
Advice to a young poet, 216-7 

To Lady Abercorn — 

The House of Aspen, . 217-8 

Mrs. Scott as amanuensis, . 218 
First purchase of land, . . 218 
Death and character of Lord 
President Blair, . . 219 

TO MORRITT — 

Purchase and plans regarding 
Abbotsford, . . .220 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Death of Lord Melville, 221-24 

A christening at Dalkeith, . 225 



To his Mother— 

Domestic intelligence, . p. 226 
To John Richardson — 

Marriage and invitation to 
Tweedside, . . .227 

TO MORRITT — 

Present of acorns, . . . 228 

Lady Anne Barnard, . . 228 

The Edinburgh Review on Don 
Roderick, .... 229 
From Lady Hood — 

On the omission of Sir John 
Moore's name in Don Ro- 
derick, . . . 229-31 
To his Mother — 

Walter's tutor in Latin, . 232 

To Mr. Hartstonge — 

A monument to Burns's 
memory, . . . 232-3 

Thomson's monument at 
Ednam, .... 233 



CHAPTER VIII.— 1812. 



To Lady Abercorn — 

Preparations for removal, 237-8 
Lords Holland and Lauder- 
dale, .... 238-9 
Campbell described, . . 239 

To Joanna Baillie — 

Mr. Stark, . . . 239-40 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Settlement of Mr. Home's 
pension, . . . 240-1 

Proposed residence at Abbots- 
ford, 241 

Death of Dr. Leyden and the 
Duke of Buccleuch, . 241-2 

To Morritt— 

Improvements at Abbotsford, 243 
Progress of Rokeby, . . 243 
Roncesvalles, . . . 243-4 

Death of Lady Aberdeen, . 244 
Lady Hood in India, . . 244 
Charles, Duke of Buccleuch, 244-5 

From Joanna Baillie — 
Present of a silk purse, . 



245 



Museum room at Abbotsford, 245 
Planting — profits and losses, . 246 
Campbell at the British Insti- 
tution, . . . 246-7 

To the Duchess of Buccleuch — 
The Ettrick Shepherd, . . 247 

To his Daughter Sophia — 

Melrose Abbey, . . . 248 
Present of a dog, named 
Wallace, . . . .248 

To Mr. Hartstonge — 

Rokeby in progress, . . 249 
Characteristics of the English, 

Scotch, and Irish, . 249-50 
Verses in the Annual Register, 250 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Ornamenting Tweedside, . 251 

French prisoners in Britain, . 251 

Change of political parties, . 252 

To Morritt — 

The silver chalice, . . 252-4 

Edinburgh Review and Lord 
Byron, . . . .254 



XVI 



CONTENTS 



To Charles Carpenter — 

Home news, ... p. 254-6 

To Lady Abercorn — 

The Kembles in Edinburgh, . 257 
Rejoicings over the battle of 

Salamanca, . . . 257 

Planting operations, . . 258 
The ms. of Rokeby burned, and 

the poem resumed, . . 258 

From Lady Abercorn — 

Lord Aberdeen's children de- 
scribed, .... 259 

To Lady Louisa Stuart— 

Proposed visit to Rokeby, 259-60 
"Gothic Well" at Abbots- 
ford, 261 

Lake of the Fisherman and 
Genii, . . . .261 

To Joanna Baillie — 

A fresh visit to Rokeby with 



Mrs. Scott and two elder 
children, . . . p. 261 

Mrs. Barbauld's poem criti- 
cised in the Quarterly, . 261 

Scott's value of national inde- 
pendence, .... 262 

A contested election, . . 262 
To Southey — 

General election, . . . 263 

Southey's Omniana, . . 263 

Lord Herbert of Cherbury — 
Henry More, . . . 263 

Baron Munchausen, . . 264 

To Joanna Baillie — 

First half of RoJceby sent to 

Joanna Baillie, . . . 265 
Rokeby Park described, . 265 

To the Duchess of Buccleuch — 

Rokeby, 266 

The original cause of Scott's 
writing poetry, . . . 266 



CHAPTER IX.— 1813. 



To Lady Abercorn — 

Byron and his poetry, . 269-71 
Recreations at Abfcotsford, . 271 
Time occupied in writing 
Rokeby, . . . .272 

From Joanna Baillie — 

Rokeby criticised, . . 272-3 

To Morritt — 

Publication and authorship of 
the Bridal of Triermain, . 274 

Miss Holford and Mrs. Sid- 
dons, .... 274-5 

To the Duchess of Buccleuch — 
Ettrick Shepherd, . . 276-7 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Official duty, . . . .277 
Spring work at Abbotsford, 277-8 
The Kembles, *. . . 278 
The Bridal of Triermain, . 278 
Rejected Addresses, . 278-9 

The Princess of Wales, . . 279 
Intimation of the Laureateship, 279 



To Miss Smith— 

Petition to recall Mrs. Siddons, 280 
Pinkerton's tragedy, . .281 
Coleridge's Remorse, . . 281 

From Lady Louisa Stuart — 
Criticism of Rokeby and the 

Bridal of Triermain, . 281-2 

R. P. Gillies, . . .282 

Lines on a bank-note, . . 283 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Apocryphal verses of Swift, . 283 
Morehead's Poetical Epistles, 284 
Horace in London, . 284-5 

Tales of the East, . . .285 
Crabbe's New Tales, . . 285 
Causes Celebres of England and 

Scotland, . . . .285 
Supplement to the Border 

Minstrelsy, .... 286 
Charles Robert Maturin, 286-7 

To his Daughter Sophia — 

Domestic intelligence, . . 287 
A lock of Charles I. 's hair, . 28' 



CONTENTS 



xvii 



To Joanna Baillie — 

Sympathy for Charles i.'s 

struggles, ... p. 288 
Bishop Juxon's Bible, . . 289 
Anecdotes of the Civil War, 289-90 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Proposed visit to Morritt and 

Southey, . . . .291 
Proposed work on Causes 

Celebres, . . . .291 
Romantic story of Carruthers 

ofDormont, . . 292-5 

Marriage-law of England and 

Scotland, . . . .295 

To Morritt — 
Jeffrey's visit to America, . 296 
Irving's New York, . . 296 
Making provision for family, 296-7 

From Morritt — 

Suspicion as to the authorship 

of the Bridal of Triermain, 297-8 
Morritt and Joanna Baillie, 298 
Lord Byron's Giaour, . . 298 
Dr. Parr, . . . .298 

From Joanna Baillie — 

Miss Edgeworth, . . .299 
Madame de Stael, . . . 300 

To Morritt — 

Hutton the Geologist, . 301-2 



Lord Compton and Mr. Pem- 

berton, ... p. 302 
Jeffrey's marriage, . . 302 

Proposed visit to Rokeby, . 302 
Mrs. Morritt's illness, . . 303 

To Mr. Hartstonge — 

Visit to Drumlanrig, . . 304 
Southey 's Don Roderick — a 
coincidence, . . . 304 

To Lady Abercorn — 

The Laureateship declined, 305-6 

To Charles Carpenter— 

Domestic intelligence, . 306-7 

To Morritt — 

Admiration for Marshal Beres- 
ford, 308 



To Joanna Baillie- 
Death of the King, 



309 



To Lady Abercorn — 

The Tweed in November, . 309 
Duty at the Law Courts, 309-10 
Further appeal for Maturin, 310-11 
Howley, Bishop of London, . 311 
Lord Aberdeen as British 

Envoy in Austria, . . 312 
The Princess of Wales, . .312 



CHAPTER X.— 1814. 



To Miss Smith — 

Madame de Stael, . . . 315 
Coleridge's verses on Love, . 315 
Twelfth-night at Dalkeith 
Palace, . . . 315-6 



To Morritt — 




Mrs. Morritt's illness, . 


316-7 


Snow-storm, . 


. 318 


Russian visitors, . 


. 319 


Battle of Leipsic, . 


. 319 


Sharpe's "Corinne," 


. 319 


The Bridal of Triermain, 


319-20 


Henry Weber, 


. 320 


Monument to Burns, 


. 320 



To Duchess of Buccleuch — 

The Ettrick Shepherd, . . 321 

Fire at Ditton, . . . 321 

Wreck of the Lovely Peggy, 321-2 

To Morritt — 

Jeffrey's return from America, 322 

President Madison, . 322-3 

Publication of Waverley, 324-29 

From Morritt — 

Waverley criticised, . 325-9 

Lord Cochrane, . . . .327 

To Joanna Baillie— 

Orkney and Shetland tour, . 330 



xvm 



CONTENTS 



Domestic intelligence, . 
Scotland and Wales, 
To Southey — 
Southey's Don Roderick, 



p. 331 
. 332 



332 



Trio of real poets, . . p. 333 
Hebridean recollections, 333-4 

Spanish affairs, . . . 334 



CHAPTER XL— 1815. 



To Lady Abercorn — 

Publication of the Lord of the 

Isles, 337 

Vaccination, .... 337 

Short excursion to Ireland, . 338 

Daughter Sophia, . . . 339 

Sir Thomas Lawrence, . . 339 

To Morritt — 
A feeding storm, . . . 339 
Funeral of Mackenzie of Sea- 
forth, 339 



To Joanna Baillie- 
Theatrical affairs, 
Domestic gossip, 



340 
340-1 



To Lady Abercorn — 

Moore described, . . . 341 
Reception of the Lord of the 

Isles, 341 

Salt, the Abyssinian traveller, 342 
Duke of Buccleuch, . . 342 
Morritt's criticism of Guy 

Mannering, . . . 343 

Visit to London with wife and 

daughter, . . . 343-4 



From Thomas Scott — 

Life among the Indians, . 344-5 

To John Richardson— 

Proposed trip to Paris and 
Waterloo, . . . .346 

From Lady Louisa Stuart — 
Criticism on poem, Field of 

Waterloo, . . . 347-8 

Queen of Wiirtemberg, . . 348 

To Lady Louisa Stuart — 
The Duke of Wellington on 

a victory, .... 349 
Literary engagements, . . 350 
Motives for writing, . . 350 

To Morritt — 

From Mossknow to Parnassus, 351 
Extending Abbotsford, . . 351 
Harold the Dauntless in prepar- 
ation, ..... 351 
Music— Planting — Son Wal- 
ter, .... 351-2 
Death of Mrs. Morritt, . .352-3 
Lady Hood, . . . .353 
Invites Morritt to Abbotsford, 353-4 



CHAPTER XII.— 1816. 



To Adam Ferguson— 

Proposal to settle on Abbots- 
ford estate, .... 357 

To Joanna Baillie — 

Deerhound Maida described, 358 

To Southey — 

Waterloo and Wellington, . 359 
Duchess of Richmond, . . 359 

To Joanna Baillie — 
Lord and Lady Byron, . . 360-1 



Eccentricities of men of 
genius, .... 361-3 

Campbell — Southey — Words- 
worth, . . . .363 

To Morritt — 
Lord and Lady Byron, . . 364 

To Terry— 

Death of brother, Major Scott,364-5 
Publication of the Antiquary, 365 



CONTENTS 



xix 



To Thomas Scott — 

Nephew Walter's welfare, p. 365-6 
Agricultural depression, . 366 

Recollections of Parisian trip, 366 

To the Duke oe Buccleuch — 
Free Masons' Hall, Selkirk, . 367 
Recollections of Bath, . . 367-8 



To Morritt — 

How to reach Abbotsford, 



368-9 



To Joanna Baillie — 

Tweedside and Abbotsford 
compared with the Con- 
tinent, . . . .369 

Byron's character and works, 370-1 

Proposed extension of Abbots- 
ford, 371-2 

State of trade, . . . 372-3 

To Lady Abercorn — 
Authorship of the Antiquary, 373-4 
DonuilDhu, . . . .374 

To Lady Louisa Stuart — 
Inroads of visitors at Abbots- 
ford, 374-5 

Dedication of 1'ales of my 

Landlord, 1st series, . . 375 
Black Dwarf, Old Mortality, 
and Harold the Dauntless 
in preparation, . . . 375-7 
Waverley and Thomas Scott, . 376 
Morritt's family, . . .377 
Charles, Duke of Buccleuch, . 377 



To Morritt — 
Shakespeare's 
cabinet, 



bust and a 



378 



Publication of Tales of my 
Landlord, 2nd Series, p. 378 

Childe Harold, part 3rd cri- 
ticised — the author's char- 
acter and probable end, 379-80 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Authorship of the novels, . 380-1 

Planting, . . . .381 

Agricultural depression, . 382 

To the Duke of Buccleuch — 

Bath as a health resort, . . 382 
Tales of my Landlord, . . 384 
Sharpe's projected publica- 
tion, 384 

Wodrow, . . . .384 
Wilson's Heroes and Lives of 
the Covenanters and anec- 
dote, 385-6 

Fox-hunting, ... 386 

To John Richardson — 

Henry Weber, . . . 387 
Enlargement of Abbotsford, . 387-8 

To Terry— 

Greyhound Marmion, . . 388 
Nasmyth and Maida, . 389-90 

To Lady Abercorn — 

Authorship of the Tales, . 390 
Thomas Scott, . . .390 
Characters and incidents of 

the Covenanting period, . 391-3 
Old Mortality, a living person, 393 

From Lady Louisa Stuart — 

Criticism of the Tales, . . 393-5 
Morritt in the secret of the 
authorship from the outset, 395 



CHAPTER XIIL— 1817. 



To Lady Louisa Stuart — 

Sale of the Tales, . 

Proposed improvements and 
additions to Abbotsford, 
From Lady Louisa Stuart — 

Public opinion regarding the 



399 



400 



authorship of the novels, 401-4 
Black Dwarf criticised, . 402-4 

To the Duke of Buccleuch — 

Tom Hutson's Minstrelsy, . 405 
The Regalia of Scotland, 405-7 



XX 



CONTENTS 



From Lady Louisa Stuart— 
Harold the Dauntless criti- 
cised, . . p. 407-9 
Mr. Hoole, translator of 

Ariosto, described, . . 409 
Politics, . . . . .410 
Tales of my Landlord, . 410-11 

Morritt, 411 

To Terry— 
Armoury of Abbotsford, 411-12 

Greyhound Hamlet, formerly 

Marmion, .... 412 
An employer of labour, . .413 
From Joanna Baillie — 

Review of Byron in the 

Quarterly, . . . .413 
Differences between the poet 

and his wife, . . 413-20 
Lady Byron's opinion of the 

review, — " a wee tate o' 

fauset," . . . .418-9 
To Joanna Baillie — 

First attack of cramp, . . 420-1 
The Legend of Lady Griseld 

Baillie, . . . 422-3 

To Terry— 

Further improvements at 

Abbotsford, . . .423-5 
Lady of the Lake and Guy 

Mannering dramatised, . 425 

Dogs, 426 

To the Duke of Buccleuch — 

Death of Lady Douglas, . 426-7 

To John Richardson — 

Legal advice for one of his 

gardeners, .... 427-8 
To Morritt — 
Poor-rates, . . . 429-30 
Aversion of the lower classes 

to the Poorhouse, . 429-30 
Discontent of the unemployed 

— low rate of wages, . . 430 



Unskilled labour, . . p. 431 
Rob Roy in preparation, . 432 

To the Duke of Buccleuch — 
Proposes to introduce Adam 

Ferguson, . . . 432-3 

Requests a picture of the 

Duke for Abbotsford, . . 433 

To Joanna Baillie — 

Tour to Loch Lomond, . . 434 
The Duke of Queensberry's 
extensive planting at Drum- 
lanrig, .... 434 
Domestic intelligence, . 434-5 
Lady Byron's visit to Abbots- 
ford, 435 

Miss Edgeworth's Harrington 
and Ormond criticised, . 435-6 

From Jeffrey — 

Solicits assistance for the 
Edinburgh Review, . 436-7 

To Jeffrey — 

Declines owing to pressure of 

work, . . . 437-8 

Invitation to Abbotsford, . 438 

From Jeffrey — 

Invitation to Craigcrook, and 
thanks for Scott's reply, 439-40 

To John Richardson — 

Extension of Abbotsford, . 440 

From Washington Irving — 

Tour in the Highlands, . . 441 
Dog Hamlet, . . . .442 

To Joanna Baillie — 

Health, 443 

Miss Edgeworth, . . . 443 
Views of publishing, . . 444 
The applause of contem- 
poraries, .... 444 
Lady Byron's visit, . 444-5 

Lord Somerville, . . . 444-5 



Facsimile Plan of Abbotsford in 1811,— End of Vol. 



LETTERS 



CHAPTER I 

1797-1804 
EDINBURGH AND LASSWADE 



' There 's no illusion there ; these flowers, 
That wailing brook, these lovely bowers, 

Are, Lucy, all our own. 
And, since thine Arthur called thee wife, 
Such seems the prospect of his life, 
A lovely path on-winding still 
By gurgling brook and sloping hill. 
'Tis true that mortals cannot tell 
What waits them in the distant dell ; 
But be it hap, or be it harm ; 
We tread the pathway arm in arm." 

Bridal of Triermain. 



VOL. I. 



FAMILY ANNALS AND LITERARY WORK 



1771—1804 



Walter Scott born 15th August 1771. 
Called to the bar 11th July 1792. 
Translations from the German— The Chase, 

William and Helen, 4to, Edin. Published 

1796. 
Marriage 24th Dec. 1797, and residence in 

50 George Street; 10 Castle Street, 1798. 
Lasswade Cottage taken, 1798. 
Song of the Edinburgh Light Dragoons, 

composed 1798. 
Translation of Goetz von Berlichingen, 8vo, 

London, 1799. 
Visit to London, March 1799. 
Father died, April 1799. Daughter Sophia 

born Oct. 24, 1799. 
First visit to Bothwell Castle, autumn 

1799. 
Appointed Sheriff of Selkirk, 16th Dec. 

1799. 
Ballads— Glenfinlas, Eve of St. John, Grey 

Brother, Fire King, 1799-1800. 
Sister Anne died 1801. 
Son Walter born Oct. 28, 1801. 
Border Minstrelsy in preparation. 
Christmas at Hamilton Palace, 1801. 
Border Minstrelsy, vols. i. and ii. printed 



at Kelso, and published by Cadell & 

Davies, London, January 1802. 
Removes from No. 10 to No. 39 Castle 

Street, Edinburgh, May 1802. - 
Ballad of Cadyow Castle. 
Visits the Border in company wrth Leyden, 

autumn 1802. 
Daughter Anne born Feb. 2, 1803. 
Leyden's departure for India, 1803. 
Visits London and Oxford, April 1803. 
Border Minstrelsy, vol. iii. published May 

1803. 
Wordsworth's visit to Scott at Lasswade, 

Sept. 1803. 
Contributions to Edinburgh Review — 

Amadis de Gaul \ 

Sibbald's Chronicle of ' V in No. 5, Oct. 1803. 
Scottish Poetry ) 

Godwin's Chaucer in No 6, Jan. 1804. 

Ellis' Early English \ 
Poetry V in No. 7, April 1804. 

Chatterton > 

Sir Tristrem, published by Constable on 

2d May 1804. 
Removes from Lasswade to Ashestiel, 

May 1804. 
Tom Purdie engaged as overseer. 
Bequest of Rosebank, Kelso, June 1804. 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



CHAPTER I. 

TO MISS CARPENTER. 1 

[About September 1797.] 

Since Miss Carpenter has forbid my seeing her for 
the present, I am willing to incur even the hazard of her 
displeasure by intruding upon her in this manner. My 
anxiety, which is greater than I can find words to express, 
leads me to risque what I am sure if you could but know 
my present [condition] would not make you very, very 
angry. 

Gladly would I have come to Carlisle to-morrow, and 
returned here to dinner ; but dearly as I love my friend, 
I would ever sacrifice my own personal gratification to 
follow the line of conduct which is most agreeable to her. 
I likewise wish to enter more particularly into the circum- 
stances of my situation, which I should most heartily 
despise myself were I capable of concealing or misrepre- 

1 Miss Charlotte Carpenter been so deeply in love with another 

(daughter of Jean Charpentier of as to be heart-broken. We have, 

Lyons and Charlotte Volere), who however, his own confession, made 

three months later became Scott's in December 1825, that his heart had 

wife. This letter precedes those been "handsomely pieced" again 

from the lady printed by Mr. Lock- by this happy marriage, though 

hart. Scott's conscientious regard " the crack would remain till his 

for truth did not permit him to dying day." 

concealwhathemightinthecircum- See letter to his mother in Life, 

stances have been pardoned for with- vol. i. pp. 370-372. 
holding, viz. : that he had recently 



4 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Sept. 

senting to you. Being only the second brother of a large 
family, you will easily conceive that tho' my father is a 
man in easy circumstances, my success in life must 
depend upon my own exertions. This I have been 
always taught to expect, and far from considering it as 
a hardship, my feelings on that subject have ever been 
those of confidence in myself. 

Hitherto, from reasons which have long thrown a 
lassitude over my mind, to which it is not naturally liable, 
my professional exertions have been culpably neglected; 
and as I reside with my father, I gave myself little trouble, 
provided my private income did but answer my personal 
expense and the maintenance of a horse or two. At the 
same time, none of those who were called to the Bar with 
myself can boast of having very far outstripped me in the 
career of life or of business. 

I have every reason to expect that the Sheriffdom of 
a particular County, 1 presently occupied by a gentleman 
in a very precarious state of health, may soon fall to my 
lot. The salary is £250 per annum, and the duty does not 
interfere with the exercise of my profession, but greatly 
advances it. The only gentleman who can be entitled to 
dispute the situation with me is at present Colonel of a 
Regiment of Dragoons, an office which he will not readily 
quit for that of a provincial Judge. Many other little 
resources, which I cannot easily explain so as to make 
you comprehend me, induce me to express myself with 
confidence upon the probability of my success; and oh, 
how dear these prospects will become to me would my 
beloved friend but permit me to think that she would 
share them ! 

If you could form any idea of the society in Edin- 
burgh, I am sure the prospect of living there would not 
terrify you. Your situation would entitle you to take as 

1 The Sheriffdom of Selkirk, which Scott obtained in 1799. 



1797] TO MISS CARPENTER 5 

great a share in the amusements of the place as you were 
disposed to ; and when you were tired of these, it should 
be the study of my life to prevent your feeling one 
moment's Ennui. When care comes, we will laugh it 
away ; or if the load is too heavy, we will sit down and 
share it between us, till it becomes almost as light as 
pleasure itself. You are apprehensive of losing your 
liberty ; but could you but think with how many domestic 
pleasures the sacrifice will be repaid, you would no longer 
think it very frightful. Indisposition may deprive you of 
that liberty which you prize so highly, and age certainly 
will. 0, think how much happier you will find yourself, 
surrounded by friends who will love you, than with those 
who will only regard even my beloved Charlotte while she 
possesses the power of interesting or entertaining them. 

You seem, too, to doubt the strength, or at least the 
stability of my affection ; I can only protest to you most 
solemnly that a truer never warmed a mortal's breast, and 
that though it may appear sudden it is not rashly adopted. 
You yourself must allow that from the nature of our 
acquaintance, we are entitled to judge more absolutely of 
each other, than from a much longer one trammelled with 
the usual forms of life ; and tho' I have been repeatedly in 
similar situations with amiable and accomplished women, 
the feelings I entertain for you have ever been strangers to 
my bosom, except during a period I have often alluded to. 

I have settled in my mind to see you on Monday next. 
I stay thus long to give you time to make what inquiries 
you may think proper, and also because you seemed to 
wish it. All Westmoreland and Cumberland shall not 
detain me a minute longer. In the meanwhile I do not 
expect you to write. You shall do nothing to commit 
yourself. How this week will pass away I know not ; but a 
more restless, anxious being never numbered the hours 
than I have been this whole day. Do not think of bidding 



6 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Sept. 

me forget you, when we again meet — do not ; the thing 
is really impossible, as impossible as it is to express how 
much I love you, and how truly I believe our hearts 
were formed for each other. Mr. and Mrs. B[ird] 1 are 
hospitality itself, but all will not do. I would fain make 
you laugh before concluding, but my heart is rather too full 
for trifling. Adieu, adieu, souvenez-vous de moi. 

W. Scott. 

TO THE SAME. 

[Nov.] 

And did my Love really think I had forgot her, or 
was going to turn a negligent Correspondent, at the very 
time when I would give the world to be with her, and tell 
her every hour how much I love her ? And why do you 
think I should regret leaving Carlisle, if it were not because 
I leave my Charlotte behind me ? If you were out of that 
ancient and illustrious city, I am sure I should think it 
one of the dullest holes that ever Ennui set up her throne 
in, and far from regretting my departure, I should certainly 
not care a farthing if I was told at the same time I should 
never see it more. 

That you should be melancholy, my sweet friend, at 
contemplating your approaching change of state is not 
surprising ; but I am glad you promise not to give way to 
such feelings, and that your gaiete de coeur is returning. 
If it will help to banish Tristesse, let me again assure you 
that every thought of my heart shall be directed to ensure 
your happiness. I admire of all things your laughing 
Philosophy, and shall certainly be your pupil in learning 
to take a gay view of human life. On sennuie d'etre 
triste — n'est-ce pas ? 

I suppose by this time you have the few lines which I 
wrote from Ashestiel, and which my sister filled up. The 
place is seven miles distant from the Post Town, which 

1 Friends of Miss Carpenter. The Rev. John Bird was a minor canon 

of St. Mary's, Carlisle. 



1797] TO MISS CARPENTER 7 

prevents them from having regular opportunities of send- 
ing off letters. 

Is it not very strange that I should never have an 
answer from Mr. Bird ? I really begin to be surprised. 
He may perhaps have directed to Hardesty's, tho' even 
then they would have had the sense to forward the letter 
to me. 

We are getting a household servant with a very 
excellent character. She has been a long time in two very 
genteel families, and understands marketing, etc., and can 
set down a decent dinner or supper; not however when 
there is nothing in the house. I am likewise buying such 
things as are necessary for us. My mother is to give us 
some linen and buy us some more ; and, in short, we are 
endeavouring to put matters in train. . . . 

TO THE SAME. 

22nd November 1797. 

In consequence of your letter, my dearest friend, I 
shall by to-morrow's post transmit to Lord Downshire a 
scroll of a Contract of Marriage, for his inspection and 
approbation, settling upon my sweet Charlotte as well what 
is her own already as what her Brother may be pleased to 
endow her with, — a very slender piece of justice on my 
part. Alas, my Love, it is all I can at present do for you ; 
but I hope better days will come, when I shall be able to 
repay you for your disinterested attachment to your poor 
friend, poor indeed in everything but his attachment to 
you and your love to him. 

Lord Downshire, when the paper is revised, must return 
it for your signature and mine, after which there will be 
no obstacle to our immediate marriage, and I shall en- 
deavour to banish every disagreeable idea as it rises in my 
gentle Charlotte's bosom. In less than a month, if this 
paper is returned, you must be mine, for I know you are 



8 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

above desiring any causeless delay of what is so very 
necessary to my happiness, and give me leave to say, to 
your comfort, for I am sure you must be tired of the 
noblesse of Carlisle. 

I heard to-day from Mr. Bird — a very polite letter, 
and arrived just at the time that my Highland blood 
began to boil over. I am no longer surprised at his 
silence. He had written me when I was in Edinburgh, 
which I had answered, and sent him a small pamphlet, the 
receipt of which, to be sure, he never acknowledged, for it 
happened the bearer had failed to deliver it till the other 
day ; so I suppose we were mutually accusing each other 
of very ill-breeding. 

He has given me a commission to get a seal engraved 
for him in a particular way ; * now, if I can get (being, as 
you are pleased to acknowledge, a man of Taste) something 
very uncommon and handsome, don't you think it would 
be a more genteel compliment than offering him money 
for making me the happiest man in the world ? Ask Miss 
Nicholson. 2 I am most happy you are pleased with the 
ring, and still more that she is so, because she is a more 
impartial judge of my Taste. In one instance I am sure 
it will be acknowledged by the whole world, tho' I fear the 
same instance will throw some imputation upon that of my 
petite amie. I had a visit from Mr. Haliburton to-day, 
and asked him all about your Brother, who was two years 
in his house. My father is Mr. Haliburton's relation and 
Chief, as he represents a very old family of that name. 

When you go to the South of Scotland with me, you 
will see their burying-place, now all that remains with my 

1 The seal here spoken of was expanded is engraved on the stone, 

presented by Scott to Mr. Bird. with some Persian characters which 

It is now the property of Mr. may be read as " John Bird. " 
Dobinson, Stanwix, Carlisle. It is 

a Scotch crystal nearly an inch in 2 Miss Carpenter's companion at 

breadth, set in open gold-work. Gilsland, a daughter of the Dean of 

The figure of a falcon with wings Exeter. 



1797] TO MISS CAEPENTER 9 

father of a very handsome property. It is one of the most 
beautiful and romantic scenes you ever saw, among the 
ruins of an old abbey. When I die, Charlotte, you must 
cause my bones to be laid there ; but we shall have many 
happy days before that, I hope. 1 Farewell, my dear, dear 
Charlotte. 



Dec 1797. 



TO P. MURRAY. 2 

Anticipated 

Gazette Extraordinary, 

xxir* December 1797. 

Yesterday was married at Carlisle Walter Scott Esq 1 
Advocate to Miss Margaret Charlotte Carpenter, daughter 
to John Carpenter, late of the city of Lyons, Esq*. 

Annotations upon the Gazette Extraordinary. 

21st Dec r . — We hear from Edinburgh that the celebrated 
Counsellor Scott of that city set out this day for Carlisle 
to show cause to the Bishop of that city why a license 
should be granted to solemnize the Holy Sacrament of 
Matrimony. 

We hear from Carlisle that the Miss Carpenter whose 
name is to appear in the Gazette Extr 7 shortly to be 

1 Miss Carpenter, who had not tiful and romantic scene, the bury- 
much of the spirit of romance, re- ing-place. Adieu once more, and 
plies (November 27, 1797) : — believe that you are loved very 

" What an idea of yours was that sincerely by C. C." 

to mention where you wish to gee Lif ^ yoh j pp 388 . 9> 
have your bones laid ! If you were 

married I should think you were tired 3 Patrick Murray of Simprim. 
of me. A very pretty compliment This early friend and correspondent 
before marriage ! I hope sincerely of Scott — endeared to him by kin- 
I shall not live to see that day. dred tastes — was a son of Lord 
If you always have those cheerful Elibank ; he is frequently referred 
thoughts, how very pleasant and to in the Life. — See Journal^ vol. i. 
gay you must be ! Adieu, my 135. Mr. Murray was at the date of 
dearest friend. Take care of your- this letter Captain in the ' ' Perth- 
self if you love me, as I have no shire Cavalry," then stationed at 
wish that you should visit that beau- Penrith. 



10 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 

published is no relation whatever to the Indian Chief 
called the little Carpenter, late Sachem of the Shawanese, 
but that she was born in the south of France, and was a 
ward of the present Lord Downshire. 

21st Dec r . — As the public curiosity has been so much 
excited about Miss Carpenter, it may be proper to say that 
this fortunate young lady is, in the opinion of the whole 
world, the delight of the male sex, and the envy of her 
own. 

In a word, I am tired of my newspaper mode of com- 
munication. I am, I am, my dear Murray — how shall I 
say it ? — I am to be married to-morrow or next day at 
farthest. Of this, my intended deed of desperation, you 
should not have remained so long ignorant had I known 
how to address you. You may perhaps have remarked 
Miss C. at a Carlisle ball, but more likely not, as her figure 
is not very frappant A smart-looking little girl with dark 
brown hair, would probably be her portrait if drawn by an 
indifferent hand. 1 But I, you may believe, should make a 
piece of work of my sketch, as little like the original as 
Hercules to me. We shall have enough to live upon with- 
out being independent of my profession, which you may 
believe I shall now cultivate with double assiduity. 2 As 
from being a sorner 3 1 am becoming a sornee, it is proper to 
acquaint you that my dwelling is No. 50 George Street, 

1 Mr. Lockhart's description of her address hovering between the 

Mrs. Scott, on the authority of those reserve of a pretty young English- 

who saw her in her early married woman who has not mingled largely 

years, may be given here : — in general society, and a certain 

"Without the features of a regular natural archness and gaiety that 

beauty, she was rich in personal suited well with the accompaniment 

attractions; 'a form that was of a French accent." 

fashioned as light as a fay's ' ; a _ _ . . . 

, . , °, , , , , 2 The marriage took place m 

complexion of the clearest and _., ,, , ^. & . _. f. . 

,. , f , ,. , ■, St. Mary s Church, Carlisle, on 

lightest olive ; eyes large, deep set _ . J n . lh _.^ 

a a v /it js \ tx v December 24, 1797. 

and dazzling, of the finest Italian 

brown ; and a profusion of silken 3 Sorner, one who takes free 

tresses, black as the raven's wing ; quarters. 



1797] TO P. MURRAY 11 

where I hope you will, upon your first coming to town, re- 
taliate some of the hundred visitations with which I have 
favoured you. Our corps comes merrily on, and makes a 
good appearance. I would march to-morrow, — mark me, 
even to-morrow, with all earthly pleasure to cut One and 
Two at the " Army of England." 1 Success to the English 
Army, and D — n to the Army of England. Hurrah ! — 
Ever yours, Walter Scott. 

TO THE SAME. 

Edin r , 20th June 1799. 

My dear Murray, — . . . I cannot tell you how happy 
I should be to make the little tour you propose, and in 
your company ; but to tell you a Benedick kind of truth, 
I cannot just at present part from the little lady you saw 
at Newcastle. We were unfortunate in losing our first 
child, 2 and you must be married yourself before you can 
conceive in the slightest degree the interest which one 
takes in an event which is likely to perpetuate his memory, 
tel qui soit. We go in next month to our little cottage 
near Lasswade, to rest there for the four months' vaca- 
tion, unless perhaps a little trip to Tweedside may vary 
our plans. . . . — Believe me, ever yours most faithfully, 

Walter Scott. 
Address — Castle Street, Edin r . 

TO WILLIAM LAIDLAW. 3 

Edin r , \2th May 1802. 

Sir, — In order to testily as much as possible my sense 
of your politeness in relation to the objects of my pursuit, 

1 The forces raised by the French For an account of this devoted 
Directory for the invasion of Britain friend of Scott see Life throughout, 
were thus named. The same term and the Journal. After Scott's 
was applied to Bonaparte's army of death Laidlaw became factor to 
invasion in 1803. Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth, and 

2 A boy, born in October 1798. afterwards to Sir Charles Ross of 

3 The first letter I find addressed Balnagowan, Ross-shire ; he died 
to the author of Lucy's Flittin'. in 1845. 



12 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [June 

I have to request your acceptance of two volumes of 
the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, which I hope may 
afford you some amusement. I beg you will keep on the 
look out for any old stories may fall in your way, whether 
in rhyme or otherwise, and preserve a memorandum of 
them against I come to the country. I hope you will not 
forget your promise to let me see you when you come to 
town. — Your obedient servant, Walter Scott. 

FROM JAMES HOGG. 1 

Ettejck House, June 30, 1802. 
Dear Sir, — I have been perusing your Minstrelsy very 
diligently for a while past, and it being the first book I 
ever perused which was written by a person I had seen 
and conversed with, the consequence hath been to me a 
most sensible pleasure ; for in fact it is the remarks and 
modern pieces that I have delighted most in, being as it 
were personally acquainted with many of the antient 
pieces formerly. 

My mother is actually a living miscellany of old songs. 
I never believed that she had half so many until I came 
to a trial. There are none in your collection of which 
she hath not a part, and I should by this time have had a 
great number written for your amusement, — thinking them 

1 Few of Scott's own letters in "this true son of nature and 
those early years have been re- genius," then hardly conscious of 
covered, though he corresponded his powers, "had taught himself to 
with many friends whose replies write by copying the letters of a 
he carefully preserved, and all of printed book as he lay watching his 
which are now at Abbotsford. flock on the hillside." Hogg had 
None of the many letters written been asked by Laidlaw to help him 
to Hogg or Campbell are forth- in obtaining materials for the M in- 
coming, but the reader may be strelsy ; and they had met Scott 
interested in seeing some of the in the previous summer on the 
replies so carefully treasured by braes of Yarrow, — the meeting so 
Scott. This very remarkable letter, amusingly described by the Ettrick 
printed from the original ms. , is the Shepherd in his Domestic Manners, 
first written to Scott by Hogg, and 12mo, Glasgow, 1838. 
readers ought to remember that 



1802] FROM JAMES HOGG 13 

all of great antiquity and lost to posterity — had I not 
luckily lighted upon a collection of songs, in two volumes, 
published by I know not who, in which I recognised about 
half a score of my mother's best songs almost word for 
word. No doubt I was piqued, but it saved me much 
trouble, paper, and ink; for I am carefully avoiding 
everything which I have seen or heard of being in print, 
although I have no doubt that I shall err, being ac- 
quainted with almost no collections of that sort ; but I am 
not afraid that you too will mistake. I am still at a loss 
with respect to some. [Then follows a list of Ballads and 
Songs.] 

Suspend your curiosity, Mr. Scott. You will see them 
when I see you, of which I am as impatient as you can 
be to see the songs for your life. But as I suppose you have 
no personal acquaintance in this parish, it would be 
presumption in me to expect that you will visit my 
cottage, but I will attend you in any part of the Forest if 
you will send me word. I am far from supposing that a 
person of your discernment — d — n it, I 11 blot out 
that word, 'tis so like flattery — I say I don't think that 
you would despise a shepherd's " humble cot an' hamely 
fare " as Burns hath it ; yet though I would be extremely 
proud of the visit, hang me if I would know what I would 
do w' ye. I am surprised to find that the songs in your 
collection differ so widely from my mother's. . . . 

Many indeed are not aware of the manners of this 
place ; it is but lately emerged from barbarity, and till this 
present age the poor illiterate people in these glens knew 
of no other entertainment in the long winter nights 
than in repeating and listening to those feats of their 
ancestors which I believe to be handed down inviolate 
from father to son for many generations, although no 
doubt, had a copy been taken of them at the end of every 
fifty years, there must have been some difference which the 



14 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [June 

repeaters would have insensibly have fallen into, merely 
by the change of terms in that period. I believe it is thus 
that many very antient songs have been modernised, 
which yet to a connoisseur will bear visible marks of 
antiquity. The Maitlen [the Auld Maitland of the 
Border Minstrelsy], exclusive of 'its mode of description, 
is all composed of words which would, mostly every one, 
both spell and pronounce in the very same dialect that 
was spoken some centuries ago. 

I formed a project of collecting all the tenors of the 
tunes to which these old songs were sung, and having them 
set to music . . . ; but I find it impossible. I might compose 
kind of tunes to some of them, and adapt others, but can 
in no wise learn the original ones. I find it was only the 
subject-matter which the old people concerned themselves 
about ; and any kind of tunes that they had, they always 
make one to serve a great many songs. 

My uncle hath never had any tune whatsoever saving 
that which he saith his prayer to : and my mother's is quite 
gone, by reason of age and frailty, and they have had a 
strong struggle with the world ever since I was born, in 
all which time, having seldom or never repeated many of 
the songs, her memory of them is much impaired. My 
uncle, said I ! He is, Mr. Scott, the most incorrigible 
man alive. I cannot help telling you this : he came one 
night professedly to see me and crack with me, as he said. 
Thinking this a fair opportunity I treated him with the 
best the house could afford, gave him a hearty glass, and 
to humour him, talked a little of religion. Thus I 
set him on, but good L — d, had you heard him, it 
was impossible to get him off again. In the course of his 
remarks he had occasion to cite Ralph Erskine. Sundry 
times he 'd run to the dale 1 where the books lay, get the 
sermons and read near every one of them from which 

1 Deal or wooden shelf. 



1802] TO MISS SEWARD 15 

he had a citation. What a deluge was poured on me of 
errors, sins, lusts, covenants broken, burned and buried, 
legal teachers, patronage, and what not! In short, my 
dram was lost to my purpose. The mentioning a song 
put him in a passion. 1 . . . 

Pardon, my dear Sir, the freedom I have taken in 
addressing you, — it is my nature, and I could not resist the 
impulse of writing to you any longer. Let me hear from 
you as soon as this comes to your hand, and tell me when 
you will be in Ettrick Forest, and suffer me to subscribe 
myself, Sir, your most humble and affectionate servant, 

James Hogg. 

to miss seward. 2 

Edin e , 30th November 1802. 

. . . Both Miss Seward's favours arrived safe, and I have 
been forming the resolution of answering them to-morrow 
for certain for several weeks. But my country amuse- 
ments and journeys were succeeded by the necessity of 
attending to some family affairs, and besides, I can plead 
with too much justice the feeling apology of the sturdy 
Neapolitan lazarone, to a person who urged him to work, 
" My dear friend, did you but know how lazy I am" — a disease 
for which no Pharmacopoeia, I believe, affords a remedy, 
unless the sharp stimulus of absolute necessity. Since I 
had the pleasure of hearing from you, I have disposed of 
the property of the Border Minstrelsy for £500 ; and I only 
mention this circumstance that you may hold me acquitted 
of the vile vanity of wishing to hold myself forth as one 

1 Hogg's relation Avas Will Laid- early letters, was much respected 
law of Phawhope, of whom Scott by Scott, and notwithstanding her 
wrote that ' ' one of our best reciters long letters and her affectations in 
has turned religious in bis later style, she interested and amused 
days, and finds out that old songs him. She was then looked upon as 
are unlawful. " a literary authority, and even now 

2 Anna Seward of Lichfield, to her published letters may be read 
whose care we are indebted for the with pleasure and profit, 
preservation of many of Scott's 



16 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

despising to reap any profit from his literary pursuits, 
which I should hold to be ineffable conceit and folly in a 
man much richer than myself. The mode of publishing 
by subscription is one which in itself can carry nothing 
degrading, and which in many of the more extensive and 
high-priced publications, is perhaps essentially necessary. 
Still, however, it is asking the public to become bound to 
pay for what they have not seen, and carries with it, if not 
the reality, at least the appearance of personal solicitation 
and personal obligation. And yet our most brilliant 
authors have had recourse to it, and alas ! too often from 
circumstances of necessity disgraceful to the age in which 
they lived, and which perhaps may hereafter be dis- 
tinguished more by the honour of having produced them, 
than by any other attribute. As for Mackenzie, 1 he was 
only a subscriber to my third volume in the same way in 
which Miss Seward is, — by contributing to its contents, not 
to its sale. I mean not directly to the sale, for I know 
how valuable the contributions of my friends have proved 
to me in securing the benevolence of the public, and have 
often likened myself to a General, who, though neither the 
bravest nor most skilful soldier in the army, runs away 
with all the profit and half the applause acquired by the 
prowess of those who have fought under his banners. I 
am highly flattered by your approbation of Cadyow Castle, 
which is founded upon a fact in Scottish history, for which 
I refer you to the death of the Regent Murray as narrated 
in Robertson's History at the end of the first volume, where 
you will find the story told in a manner highly picturesque. 
Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, by whom he was slain, 
had received the most poignant injury at his hands: 
his dwelling of Woodhouselee having been plundered by 
the Regent's minions, and his wife, a few days after child- 

1 Colin Mackenzie of Portmore's .contribution to the Minstrelsy was 
his own composition of "Ellandonan Castle." 



1802] TO MISS SEWARD 17 

birth, having been turned naked into the fields when 
covered with snow, in consequence of which barbarous 
usage she went raving mad, and died shortly after. She 
is the Margaret of the Ballad. 

I rejoice that you have met the ladies of Llangollen, 1 
of whom I have heard so much that I think you must 
have found them kindred spirits. My friends Mr. and 
Mrs. Dugald Stewart are well acquainted with them, and 
great admirers of their accomplishments and manners, a 
eulogium which conveys a great deal to all who know Mr. 
and Mrs. Stewart. As I hope you read the Bible, and are 
acquainted with the propriety of heaping coals of fire upon 
the head of a lazy correspondent, I venture in virtue of 
that precept to solicit the pleasure of hearing from you 
when you can spare me an hour for so idle a purpose. 

I am at present busy with the second edition of the 
Minstrelsy, and preparations for the third volume, particu- 
larly a sort of Romance of Border Chivalry and Enchant- 
ment, 2 which will extend to some length. When it has 
made any progress, I will send you a few stanzas, which, 
unworthy as they are, will I hope serve as a sort of 
peace-offering. 

TO CHARLES CARPENTER. 3 

Edinburgh, 6th March 1803. 

My dearest Brother, — . . . I know that good news 
from Scotland will have considerable effect in enlivening 
your spirits, and therefore I hasten to tell you that we are 

1 The ladies of Llangollen were gives an amusing description of 

Miss Sarah Ponsonby and Lady their adventures, and Mr. Lockhart 

Eleanor Butler, of the Bessborough an equally entertaining account of 

and Ormonde families. They had left the ladies in their old age, when 

their homes in Ireland in roman- Scott and he visited them in 1S25. 

tic circumstances, and settled in — See Quarterly Review, vol. cxvi. 

Wales about 1776. These close p. 472. 

friends lived in their picturesque 2 Lay of Last Minstrel. 

cottage there for more than fifty 3 Mrs. Scott's brother, Commer- 

years. Scott, in a letter to Morritt, cial Resident, Salem, India. 

VOL. I. B 



18 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

well, happy and prosperous. Charlotte, about four weeks 
ago, presented me with a little damsel whom we have called 
Anne, in compliment to my worthy mother : had it proved 
a boy it was to have been a little Charles. Sophia is a 
thriving little Scotch girl, and the boy uncommonly stout, 
healthy, and robust; in short, quite a model for a little 
Hercules. 

My worldly matters jog on very well. Government 
propose to increase the appointments of the sheriffs, which 
will put an additional £100 into my pocket. Moreover, I 
have contrived to turn a very slender portion of literary 
talents to some account by a publication of the poetical 
antiquities of the Border Counties, where the old people 
had preserved many ballads and ancient songs descriptive of 
the manners of the country during the wars with England. 
... I am seeking a mode of conveyance to transmit to you 
this precious compilation. 

You will hear a good deal of our motions from a Doctor 
Leyden 1 who goes to Madras in this fleet. Should his 
fortune throw him in your way, Charlotte has given him 
a few lines to }^ou merely as an introduction, but I must 
let you a little deeper into his history. He was the son of 
a very petty farmer in Roxburghshire, and had so little 
education that at 12 years old he did not know how to 
write. Nature, however, had been liberal in her gifts ; he 
caught a taste for knowledge, and under the most depress- 
ing circumstances made himself master of most of the 
learned languages of Modern Europe, and even dabbled in 
Eastern literature. When he found his way to Edinburgh 
College, his merit by degrees became noticed, and at length 

1 This extraordinary genius, hearing the sad news, Southey ex- 

whose name often occurs in these claimed that Batavia had been too 

letters, died in his 36th year, on dearly purchased by his life. Scott 

the expedition to Java in 1811. So wrote a short memoir of his friend, 

great was his reputation as an which may be read in the Miscel- 

Orientalist at this time that on laneous Works, vol. iv. p. 137. 



1803.] TO CHARLES CARPENTER 19 

conspicuous. I had the good luck early to discover both 
his literary and personal worth, and at different times he 
lived a good deal with us, till it was in my power to 
procure him his present appointment of Assistant Surgeon 
on the Madras establishment, which I accomplished through 
Mr. Dundas. Lord W. Bentinck is to countenance him in 
his labours, which I suppose will be rather literary than 
medical. He will certainly make an effort to see you if it 
be possible. You must be prepared to encounter and 
pardon some peculiarity of manner, arising from his early 
history, and which even his intercourse with the first 
people here and in London has not erased ; but you will 
find this amply atoned for by a great fund of knowledge 
and native kindness of disposition. He will be able to 
tell you a thousand little anecdotes regarding our domestic 
habits, etc. ; for things of very little importance in them- 
selves are pleasing and interesting when they relate to 
separated friends. 

I am rejoiced to see that at length you fix a period at 
which we may hope for your return to Britain. Happiness 
depends so much less upon the quantity of fortune than 
upon the power of enjoying what we have, that I am sure 
you, my dear brother, after having spent your early years 
in acquiring a respectable fortune, will not delay enjoying 
it for the purpose of making it still larger. Remember 
Scotland will have a claim on you for one part of the 
year, if upon trial you like its society and climate; and 
I am so true a Scotchman that I think it impossible you 
can dislike them. Besides, our women are generally 
reckon'd handsome and accomplished, and I hope, not- 
withstanding your attachment to old England, you will 
give our Nymphs a chance of setting their caps at you. 
Your sister says you positively must be married soon after 
your arrival, so you must prepare for fetters even in the 
land of liberty. 



20 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

I would send you political news were there any worth 
sending; those from France are singularly gloomy. . . . 
Subjected to a very rigorous military Government, all 
attempt at domestic happiness seems to be given up for 
the fracas of public amusements, and immense parties, 
where none dare tell his mind to his next neighbour, 
should it involve anything more important than an opinion 
on the merit of the newest cantata or figurante. Besides 
all this a pestilential disorder is now raging at Paris. 

At home the most remarkable event is the discovery of 
a plot to assassinate the best of kings by a set of low 
ruffians, the leaders of whom have been executed. Colonel 
Despard, the ring-leader of these miscreants, was once in 
the army, and had a character for bravery and skill in his 
profession. Being entrusted with some presents intended 
to conciliate the Chiefs of the Mosquito Indians in the Bay 
of Honduras, the worthy Colonel chose to appropriate the 
gifts to his own purposes, for which peculation he was 
broken by a Court Martial in the West Indies. Having 
become totally desperate in consequence of this well- 
merited disgrace, he embraced eagerly the opportunity of 
avenging himself on Government by embarking in all the 
seditious proceedings during the war, which procured him 
a lodging in Cold Bath Fields, where his fate was deplored 
and howled over by Sir Francis Burdett and other re- 
forming members of the House of Commons. The first 
act of this worthy and oppressed patriot upon his liberation 
was to organise the murder of his Sovereign. It does not 
appear from his trial that any persons were associated with 
him, excepting the ruffians who were to be the immediate 
actors; but it is generally believed that he acted as the 
link betwixt these subordinate agents and a higher rank 
of conspirators, as it is hardly to be conceived that a person 
of sense and education would embark in so desperate a 
project without being assured of more powerful allies than 



1803] TO CHARLES CARPENTER 21 

a set of low blackguards not exceeding thirty or forty 
in number. Colonel Despard died like a true Jacobin, 
neither fearing God nor regarding man. 

The peace seems likely to hold, notwithstanding it is 
confidently asserted that we are to retain Malta as the only 
security against the preponderance which the French have 
acquired in the Mediterranean by the cession of Elba, and 
the Chief Consul having been placed at the head of the 
Cisalpine republic. Those who talk of the retention of 
Malta (and I have heard some very high authority on the 
subject) reason thus : — if Bonaparte does not wish to 
quarrel with this country, or again to possess himself of 
Egypt, which would produce an immediate breach, then 
our cession of Malta cannot be to him a matter of such 
importance as to precipitate him into war ; but if he really 
wishes to have Egypt, the removal of our fleet and armies 
from Malta will be an indispensable preliminary, and such 
a removal would be followed by his immediately invading 
Egypt, and consequently by a war with this country under 
circumstances much more unfavourable than if we still 
held Malta ; so that the proposed cession might accelerate, 
but could not possibly avert, a breach with France. Such 
were the sentiments which I heard delivered by a very 
eminent statesman, and I think there is good sense in them, 
though I do not pretend to understand the subject. 

To return to domestic affairs ; as soon as your sister is 
quite recovered, I intend we shall go to London, where I 
am called by some professional business ; so we shall have 
the pleasure of seeing all our good friends in Piccadilly, 1 
which will be no small gratification to me as well as to 
Charlotte. She is recovering from her indisposition un- 
commonly well, and desires a thousand expressions of the 
kindest affection to you. Joining cordially in all her good 
wishes, I am ever, most sincerely, your truly affectionate 
brother, Walter Scott. 

1 The Dumergues, old and tried friends of Mrs. Scott's mother. 



22 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [1803 

TO HARRIET, COUNTESS OF DALKEITH, afterwards 
DUCHESS OF BUCCLEUCH. 1 

Mr. Scott has the honour to return to Lady Dalkeith 
Mr. Beattie's copy of Tamlane with most respectful thanks. 
Mr. Scott has adopted several of the verses, which are very 
beautiful, particularly those describing the march of the 
Fairies, although they have rather a modern cast. It is 
presumed Mr. B. is no poet himself, but is there not or has 
there ever been a rhyming clergyman in the neighbour- 
hood ? The following verse is certainly too polished for a 
popular ballad : — 

We sleep in rosebuds soft and sweet, 
We revel in the stream, 
We wanton lightly on the wind, 
Or glide on a sunbeam. 2 

Mr. Scott sends for Lady Dalkeith's perusal 3 cantos of 
an unfinished poem, in which her Ladyship will recognize 
her friend Gilpin Horner — at least the general idea of 
the Goblin page is taken from that tale. To make the 
story fully intelligible a number of historical notes will 
be necessary; in the meantime Lady Dalkeith will have 
the goodness to attend to the following facts. 

Dame Janet Beatoun, Lady Buccleuch, who flourished 
in Queen Mary's time, was a woman of high spirit and 
great talents. According to the superstition of the times, 
the vulgar imputed her extraordinary abilities to super- 
natural knowledge. If Lady Dalkeith will look into the 
Introduction to the Border Ballads, pages xv. and xxix., 

1 This first letter regarding the and all were sent by Scott, no doubt, 

Lay of the Last Minstrel gratified to interest Lady Dalkeith in his 

the noble lady to whom it was brother bards. 

addressed. It is still preserved at 2 Although Scott suspected the 

Dalkeith, together with a handful modern origin of the lines, he in- 

of Scott's and Campbell's verses serted them in his version of Tam- 

(then unpublished), apparently in lane, but Professor Child has not 

the clear flowing penmanship of included the doubtful stanzas in 

both poets. Among them is a his critical edition of English and 

transcript of Hogg's Gilrnansclcugh, Scotch Ballads. 



1803] TO LADY DALKEITH 23 

she will find some accounts of a deadly feud betwixt the 
clans of Scott and Kerr, which, among other outrages, 
occasioned the death of Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch, 
the husband of Janet Beatoun, who was slain by the Kerrs 
in the streets of Edinburgh. The lady resented the death 
of her husband by many exploits against the Kerrs and 
their allies. In particular the Laird of Cranstoun fell 
under her displeasure, and she herself headed a party 
of 300 horse with the intention of surprising and killing 
that baron in the Chapel of St. Mary, beside St. Mary's 
Loch at the head of Yarrow. The baron escaped, 
but the lady burned the chapel and slew many of his 
attendants. She possessed interest enough with Queen 
Mary to procure the reversal of a sentence of forfeiture 
pronounced against Walter Scott of Harden and other 
gentlemen who had attended her upon the expedition. 

The feud was finally ended by Cranstoun marrying 
the lady's daughter. It must also be remembered that 
Sir Michael Scott is renowned in tradition as a wizard. 
His books were supposed to be buried with him, but no 
one durst dig them up on account of the terrible spells 
which they contained. 

The poem has drawn itself out to such a length that 
it cannot be received into the third volume of the 
Minstrelsy ; when finished it will consist of four or five 
cantos. Mr. Scott has thought of publishing it separately 
and inscribing it to Lord Dalkeith, if his Lordship will 
permit it to be honoured with his name. When Lady 
Dalkeith has satisfied her curiosity, and that of any of her 
noble friends, if her Ladyship will have the goodness to 
return the loose sheets, Mr. Scott hopes soon to request 
her Ladyship's acceptance of a complete copy. 1 
Castle Street — Monday. 

1 For the origin and growth of Minstrel, prefixed to the large 8vo 
this poem, see the autobiographical edition of the Poems, 
introduction to the Lay of the Last 



CHAPTEK II 

1805-1806 

EDINBURGH AND ASHESTIEL 



' 0, dread was the time, and more dreadful the omen, 

When the brave on Marengo lay slaughtered in vain, 
And, beholding broad Europe bow'd down by her foemen, 

Pitt closed in his anguish the map of her reign ! 
Not the fate of broad Europe could bend his brave spirit 

To take for his country the safety of shame ; 
O then in her triumph remember his merit, 
And hallow the goblet that flows to his name." 

Song at the Pitt Anniversary. 



FAMILY ANNALS AND LITERARY WORK 



1805-1806 



Lay of Last Minstrel, published by Long- 
mans in 4to, January 1805. 

Partnership with James Ballantyne as 
Printer, May 1805. 

Song, The Bard's Incantation, autumn 1805. 

Visit to Cumberland and the Lakes, do. 

Dryden undertaken. 

Son Charles born Dec. 24th, 1805. 

Visit to London regarding appointment as 
Clerk of Session, February 1806. 

Appointment confirmed, March 8th, 1806. 

Melville Banquet, June 27th, 1806. 

Ballads and Lyrical Pieces published in 
8vo, Longmans, Sept. 1806. 



Slingsby and Hodgson's Memoirs published 

in 8vo, Constable, Oct. 1806. 

Contributions to Edinburgh Review— 

Froissart \ 

Col. Thornton's > in No. 10, Jan. 1805. 

Sporting Tour ) 
Godwin's Fleetwood in No. 11, April 1805 
Ossian -\ 

New Practice of > in No. 12, July 1805 

Cooking ' 

Todd's Spenser in No. 13, Oct. 1805. 

Ellis' Early *°- 1 in No . U , Jan. 1806. 

nuances ) 

Miseries of Human -> 

Life 
Herbert's Poems fin No. 17, Oct. 1806. 

and Transla- I 

tions 



26 



CHAPTER II 

TO WORDSWORTH. 1 

Edinburgh, lQth March 1805. 

My dear Wordsworth, — I duly received both your let- 
ters, and, before the last arrived, had deeply sympathised in 
your late melancholy loss. 2 The same dreadful catastrophe 
deprived me of a near relation, 3 a delightful and promising 
youth, the hope and pride of his parents. He had just 
obtained a cadetship, and parted from us in all the ardour 
of youthful hope and expectation, leaving his father (a 
brother of my mother) almost heartbroken at his departure. 
But I will not dwell on the grief and despair which his 
fate occasioned, except to assure you that in the scenes of 
distress which I was obliged to witness, and in which 
indeed I shared sincerely, I often thought of the similar 
effects which the same disastrous event must necessarily 
have produced in your little family of Love. I hope you 
will struggle against the too great indulgence which grief 
is apt to exact, and that Miss Wordsworth will call her 
admirable good sense to assist her in calming her feelings 
under this unexpected and dreadful blow. It is a vile 

1 Readers of Dorothy Words- Scott's to Wordsworth existing, 
worth's Recollections of a Tour do and the above is the only one 
not require to be reminded that available for this book. 
Scott and Wordsworth met for the 2 The Shipwreck of the Aber- 
first time at Lass wade Cottage in gavenny, East Indiaman, corn- 
September 1803. Many of Words- manded by Wordsworth's brother 
worth's letters to Scott have been John. 

printed by Mr. Lockhart and Pro- a A son of Dr. Daniel Ruther- 

fessor Knight, but there are few of ford. 

27 



28 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

selfish maxim to say " Sorrow not for what cannot be re- 
called," and those who can give the advice are, I hope, the 
only persons who could accept of the consolation it affords. 
But that which is has stronger claims on us than that 
which is gone, and I hope in the discharge of your mutual 
duties, and in the task of mutual consolation your sorrow 
will in time be robbed of its bitterness. 

I am truly happy that you have found anything to 
interest or amuse you in my romance. 1 It has the merit 
of being written with heart and good will, and for no 
other reason than to discharge my mind of the ideas 
which from infancy have rushed upon it. I believe 
such verses will be generally found interesting, because 
enthusiastic. 

Havhig thus expelled from my brain the Fiend of 
Chivalry, and sent him to wander at will through the 
world, I must sweep and garnish the empty tenement and 
decorate or rather fill it with something useful, lest the 
former tenant should return with seven devils worse than 
himself, and take possession for good and aye. 

And now let me tell you that I am very much flattered 
by your choosing Yarrow for a subject of the verses sent 
me in your first letter, which shall not pass out of my own 
hand, nor be read except to those worthy of being listeners. 
At the same time, I by no means admit your apology, how- 
ever ingeniously and artfully stated, for not visiting the 
bonnie holms of Yarrow, and certainly will not rest till I 
have prevailed upon you to compare the ideal with the 
real stream. We are usually now (during the vacation of 
the court) within three miles of Yarrow by a wild and 
mountainous pass. Our own farm is on Tweedside, a 
sweet and simple spot, which I hope you will one day visit. 
I intended a poetical request of this nature in your own 
measure and versification, but postpone it for the present. 

1 The Lay of the Last Minstrel. 



1805] TO WORDSWORTH 29 

We have Broad-meadow upon Yarrow, which, with the 
addition of green or fair or any other epithet of one syllable, 
will give truth to the locality and supply the place of 
Burnhill meadow, which we have not. 1 There are some 
good lines in the old Ballad, the hunted hare for instance, 
who mourns that she must leave fair Leaderhaugh and 
cannot win to Yarrow. And this from early youth has 
given my bosom a thrill when sung or repeated. 

For many a place stands in hard case, 
Where blithe folks kend nae sorrow ; 
'Mongst Homes that dwelt on Leader side, 
And Scotts that lived on Yarrow. 2 

I like your swan upon St. Mary's Lake. How came 
you to know that it is actually frequented by that superb 
bird? 

My mind is much set upon accepting your flattering- 
invitation this approaching [autumn]. Our courts do not 
rise till the 12th of July, when we have some liberty, and 
I would fain hope that I may be then able to see you on 
the banks of Derwent among the scenes you have im- 
mortalised. 3 But I have many duties to discharge, and 
cannot always be the absolute master of my own time. 
May I hope to hear from you at your leisure moments ? I 
beg kindest compliments to your sister and Mrs. Words- 
worth, in which Charlotte cordially joins. — Yours truly, 

W. Scott. 

1 The verses referred to of course 2 From "Leader Haughs and 

were Yarrow Unvisited. Words- Yarrow." — See Ramsay's Tea 

worth had requested a name more Table Miscellany. 
true to the place than " Burn Mill" 

in the line 3 Mr. and Mrs. Scott went to the 

" The sweets of Bum Mill meadow." En g lish Lakes before the summer 

was over, and there met the Words- 

The line, however, stands in the worths, and also Humphry Davy 

published poem as originally and Southey. 

written, and with good reason, as Southey returned Scott's visit in 

the name occurs in one of the old October, when he spent three days 

Yarrow songs. at Ashestiel. 



30 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [August 



FROM FRANCIS JEFFREY. 1 

Edinburgh, 19th August 1805. 

My dear Scott, — It is not a trouble but a great pleasure 
and consolation to me to answer your kind letter. I arn 
indeed at this moment of all men the most miserable and 
disconsolate ; but it is a kind of relief for me to talk of my 
wretchedness to those at least who have given me proofs 
of their sympathy without any solicitation. 

You do not know, my dear Scott, how entirely I had 
limited all my notions of earthly happiness to domestic 
society and affection, and how completely I had found it 
there without intermission or alloy. It was rather early to 
part with it, and just when fortune was beginning to smile 
upon us, and friends to increase in number and value. 

I cannot come soon to Ashes tiel. That journey was 
almost the latest subject of my poor Kitty's solicitude, and 
she talked of it with delight and confidence almost as long 
as she was able to talk of anything. There is nothing 
indeed which melts and overcomes me so completely in 
the recollection of her last illness, as the unquenchable and 
unbroken hope with which she looked forward to her 
recovery and future enjoyments. . . . She had been so 
often ill, indeed, and had always recovered so rapidly that 
it scarcely entered into my imagination that there could 
be one illness of which she could not recover, and the 

1 Scott had known Jeffrey very tributor into an avowed opponent 

intimately from 1792, and when the of the critic, though his friendly 

latter became Editor of the Edin- feelings for the man remained un- 

burgh Review he naturally joined altered. 

him as contributor and near ally. Of Scott's early letters to Jeffrey 

For a few years (1803-1806) there none have been preserved, and 

was scarcely a number of the there is only one of 1818 which is 

Review which did not contain one printed in the Appendix to Cock- 

or more articles from his pen, but burn's life of his friend. 

Jeffrey's political papers gradually The foregoing touching note 

lessened Scott's zeal, and finally, in from Jeffrey refers to the death of 

1808, when the Quarterly was his young wife, 
planned, changed his friendly con- 



1805] FEOM FKANCIS JEFFREY 31 

cheerful magnanimity of her temper charmed away all 
apprehensions from those who were about her. 

I am very well, I thank you, except that I have miser- 
able nights and feel torpid all day. I have some thoughts 
of going into the country for a day or two, but I cannot 
force myself to leave my Kitty's grave at a distance. I 
hope to be able to come to you by and bye, and am always, 
dear Scott, very gratefully and affectionately yours, 

F. Jeffrey. 

I am afraid I shall be able to do but little for the 
Review next time. I rely on your friendship to help to 
supply my deficiency. 

TO MISS NICHOLSON. 1 

Edinburgh, 2Uh December 1805. 

My dear Miss Nicholson, — I have the pleasure to 
acquaint you that Charlotte last night added a little boy 
to our family, and that they are both as well as you could 
wish — that is, as well as possible. In every other respect 
your Castle Street friends have every reason to be con- 
tented and happy. Our family are healthy and strong; 
your little favourite, Sophia, turns out a very clever girl 
of her age, and gives great content to her instructors. I am 
at pains with her education, because you know " learning 
is better than house or land." At the same time, my own 
prospects are so fair that I have every reason to think I 
shall soon be able to make a very decent provision for my 
little people. This little fellow is to be called Charles, 
after brother Charles, whose sudden marriage gave us both 
pleasure and surprise. I incline to think that this con- 
nection will induce him to remain some time longer in 
India. As my countrywomen, like my countrymen, go all 

1 Miss Nicholson had been Mrs. Scott's companion and friend before 
marriage, ante, p. 8. 



32 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS. [Feb. 

over the world, I have taken it into my head he may 
have lighted upon one of them. 

Adieu, my dear Madam : I hope you will let me know 
you are well and happy. — Believe me, your very faithful 
humble servant, Walter Scott. 

FROM LORD DALKEITH. 

Dalkeith House, February 20, 1806. 

My dear Sir, — I do most cordially and sincerely 
felicitate you on having obtained your commission at last, 
from the Secretary's office. I should have said "Gratulor" 
sooner, had I not been somewhat more occupied lately 
than usual with a variety of avocations, — none very plea- 
sant. 

My children are going on very well, which (as you know) 
is a salve to a parent's mind, however otherwise distressed. 

Lord Spencer (as a professed Patron of Literature) has 
done what he ought to have done in regard to you, inde- 
pendent of the fairness of the request. You are now to 
snap your fingers at the Bar. But you are not to be idle. 
We shall expect much from your leisure. Why have we 
no good, compendious Border History? 1 Not because 
it is not wanted, but because no person willing, or compe- 
tent to the task has yet undertaken a work interesting to 
most, but particularly so to many of your best friends and 
admirers. 

You are too modest in comparing yourself to anything 
extraordinary in the deficiency or superabundance of 
nature (vide your own letter). 2 For the credit of London, 

1 See Scott's Letter to Lord don, 11th February, intimating 
Dalkeith, Nov. 23, 1806, p. 59 of that he had been successful in ob- 
the present volume. taining his appointment as Clerk of 

2 This excellent letter from Session. The office was worth 
Charles, Earl of Dalkeith, after- about £1000 (subsequently £1300) 
wards 4th Duke of Buccleuch, is a a year, but until 1811 Scott derived 
reply to one from Scott dated Lon- no pecuniary benefit from it, as he 



1806] FEOM LOED DALKEITH S3 

let it *be said that the Last Minstrel is not unnoticed, 
but that he is " high placed in hall a welcome guest." 

This shows the intrinsic merit of your work. 

We have many local reasons for admiring the poem. 
The Londoners have no reason for admiring it but that 
it possesses real general merit, and might be read with 
interest and infinite pleasure by an erudite and judicious 
Englishman, as well as by a partial Borderer or Scott. 

Talk not, think not, of Politics ; go to the Hills and 
converse with the Spirit of the Fell, or any spirit but the 
spirit of party, which is the fellest fiend that ever dis- 
turbed Harmony and social pleasure. One cannot keep 
quite clear of its clutches, but thank God, it has only 
slightly scratched me as yet. My star of attraction is set. 1 
I shall only say he was the mightiest man (take him for 
all in all) that ever lived. His last effort to recover the 
lost liberties and independence of Europe, the means he 
imagined, and those he realised, were truly gigantic. He 
could not control fate; far less could he make Mack a 
General, or Francis 2 a rational being. Peace to his manes 
and honour to his memory, and in my mind unutterable 
grief and eternal regret. Lady D. desires to be kindly re- 
membered. — Yours sincerely, Dalkeith. 

TO LEYDEN. 

Edinburgh, 5th July 1806. 
My dear Leyden, — You cannot doubt that the 
receipt of your letter 3 from Pulo Penang, dated 20th 

had arranged that his predecessor, previous month. 
Mr. George Home, should draw the 2 The Austrian Emperor and his 

whole salary as long as he lived ; an General. 

arrangement which gave rise to 3 Not in the Abbotsford collec- 

many humorous complaints in his tion. A characteristic epistle from 

letters for the next five years, on Pulo Penang to another friend, 

his old friend being such an adept dated October 24th, 1805, is given 

in the art of prolonging life. See by Scott in the Biography of 

Life, vol. ii. pp. 305-8. Leyden. Prose Works, vol. iv. pp. 

1 Pitt died on the 23rd of the 178-185. 
VOL. I. C 



34 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [July 

November, gave Charlotte and me the greatest pleasure, 
more especially as it contains the very first lines which we 
have received from you since you went to India, or indeed 
which have ever reached Europe, excepting a letter of some 
length to your father. But it was doubly acceptable at 
the present moment, because the reports of your illness 
reached Europe in such an exaggerated form, that we had 
every reason to apprehend we had lost you entirely, which 
you may imagine gave us sincere distress. Letters have 
also arrived safe to Heber, to Ballantyne, to Constable, 
and I believe, to some of your other friends. 

I am happy to see your health is mending ; pray take 
care of it for the sake of your friends and of literature. 
You may sow the seed and raise the crop of Oriental 
acquisitions in India; but we in Europe are, by all the 
rules of the East India Company, entitled to the exclusive 
profit of the harvest, and should you disable yourself from 
transmitting us our lawful dues, it will be but a sorry 
account of your stewardship. 

I wish from my soul, the brass cauldron in which you 
traversed the Indian torrent had possessed the qualities 
of Medea's kettle, and renewed you, blood, liver, lights, and 
limb, to the full vigour of a true Moss-trooper. In the 
circumstances, however, I should have been rather alarmed 
that the previous process of hewing to pieces might have 
preceded the embarkation without producing the same 
marvellous effects experienced by Osen, 1 or whatever his 
name was. 

Now, as I know you must be gasping for European 
intelligence, I will endeavour to gratify you with such par- 
ticulars as I think will be interesting to you. In the first 
place, as to my own affairs, your little friend and hostess 
continues the same kind and affectionate companion. She 
begs to be very kindly remembered to you, and we very 

1 iEson. Jason's father. 



1806] TO LEYDEN 35 

often talk of you, and mourned long over what then 
seemed to me your unaccountable silence. We beg you 
will take the greatest care of your letters in future, and you 
may depend upon hearing from me very often. Indeed, I 
should have written long ere now, but had no means of 
directing to you. 

The cottage is no longer in our possession. We 
abandoned it with regret ; but it was grown too small for 
my increasing family, and the neighbourhood began to be 
inconveniently populous. I therefore have taken a lease 
of the house and estate of AshestieL You remember this 
little mansion upon the Tweed, where we dined with the 
Miss Rutherfords and the Miss Russells. I have subset the 
whole of the sheep farm, which is valuable and extensive, 
and retained in my own hands a small arable farm for 
cows, horses, sheep for the table, etc. Here we live all the 
summer like little kings, and only wish that you could 
take a scamper with me over the hills in the morning, and 
return to a clean table-cloth, a leg of forest mutton, and a 
blazing hearth in the afternoon. Walter has acquired the 
surname of Gilnockie, being large of limb and bone, and 
dauntless in disposition, like that noted chieftain. Your 
little friend Sophia is grown a tall girl, and I think promises 
to be very clever, as she discovers uncommon acuteness 
of apprehension. We have, moreover, a little roundabout 
girl with large dark eyes, as brown, as good-humoured, and 
as lively as the mother that bore her, and of whom she is 
the most striking picture. Over and above all this there 
is in rerum natura a certain little Charles, so called after 
the Knight of the Crocodile ; but of this gentleman I can 
say but little, as he is only five months old, and conse- 
quently not at the time of life when I can often enjoy the 
honour of his company. 

I have exchanged my practice at the Bar in order to 
become one of the principal Clerks of Session, which, with 



36 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [July 

my Sheriffdom, forms a very good official appointment. 
The worst of it is that I draw little immediate profit from 
my new office till the death of an old gentleman who 
resigned in my favour; but it is to be supposed he will 
soon make a final resignation of it, when I succeed to near 
£1000 a year, which, as you know my habits are more for 
comfort than show, will amply supply my turn. 

About literary labours I must inform you that the 
fourth edition of the Lay is just come out, and is to be 
followed by an edition of the Minstrelsy and of Sir 
Tristrem. I will take the safest measures I can to for- 
ward to you sets of these books and of any others' which 
I think likely to interest you. The reception of the Lay 
has been very flattering, and the sale both rapid and 
extensive. 

I am somewhat tempted to undertake a Highland poem 
upon the same plan. Meanwhile my present grande opus 
consists in an uniform edition of Dryden's works, which, as 
you know, have never been collected, with notes critical 
and illustratory by the Editor. This fills up most of my 
leisure hours, and as the duties of my office are very 
slight, — which was indeed my principal motive for asking 
it, — these leisure hours are numerous. I only wish 
I could have your assistance as formerly in arranging, 
digesting, and contributing to my labour, or rather to my 
amusement. 

I have one or two trifling undertakings besides Dryden, 
but they are hardly worth mentioning, though I may 
probably detail them in another letter before these ships 
saiL 

Camp 1 is as much in favour, as stout and hearty as ever. 

1 The earliest of Scott's favourite which Scott gave to Mr. Stevenson, 
dogs. He is figured in Saxon's Bookseller, Edinburgh, with a de- 
portrait of his master, and in scription of the dog, which by the 
Raeburn's picture now at Bowhill. courtesy of Mr. T. G. Stevenson is 
Howe also painted Camp's portrait, now printed at page 209. 



1806.] TO LEYDEN 37 

He had a very violent illness about a year ago, which had 
like to have carried him off. He was unable to stir for 
about two days, and eat nothing but some milk, which I 
forced into his mouth with a teaspoon; but by dint of 
using that noble remedy un petit lavement, frequently 
repeated, we brought on a crisis, and his health was re- 
stored, to the general joy of the family. 

Enough of myself; so let me now tell you of some other 
friends. I was in London last spring, where I saw Heber 
frequently. His father being now dead and he in posses- 
sion of a large property, his diligence indefatigable, and his 
taste undoubted, he will be soon in possession of the 
noblest library in England. Ellis, 1 poor fellow, is a martyr 
to the liver, but carries on his studies with vigour. He 
has finished his Romances in three volumes — a most lively 
and entertaining performance. Most of those in the 
Auchinleck MS. — our old friend — were well ransacked upon 
this occasion. Yet, though I cannot tell why, this work 
has not been quite so popular as the Specimens. To come 
nearer home, Ballantyne continues to flourish like a green 
bay tree, but instead of being planted by a river, he has 
established at the bottom of St. Mary's Wynd a hall, equal 
to that which the Genie of the lamp built for Aladdin in 
point of size, but rather less superbly furnished, being 
occupied by about a dozen of presses. 

Constable goes on to improve in circumstances, trade, 
and size. He has associated with him young Hunter of 
Blackness, who, bringing £3000 or £4000 to the stock, has 
enabled him to outdo his former outdoings. 

Tom Brown 2 is well, but having published a collection 
of poems which were rather too metaphysical for the 
public taste, he has become shyer than ever. 

1 George Ellis, the accomplished 2 Dr. Thomas Brown, afterwards 
author of the Specimens of the Early Professor of Moral Philosophy, 
English Poets, 3 vols., etc. Edinburgh. 



38 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [April 

We are now assured that after a vigorous contest with 
the India Directors on the subject of Lord Lauderdale, 
Lord Minto 1 is finally to go out as Governor-General. 
You know he is one of my most intimate friends in that 
rank of life. I intend to press your pursuits and person 
very strongly on his notice before he leaves Europe. He 
is a man of taste and literature ; so pray arrange matters 
so as to keep in his way. Charlotte sends you mille choses, 
but I will write soon and tell you all about her messages. 
— Ever yours truly, Walter Scott. 



TO SOUTHEY. 2 

April 1806. 

My dear Sir, — I have been in London " pursuing for- 
tune's slippery ball," and have been fortunate enough, 
notwithstanding the change of men and measures, 3 to secure 
the reversion of a considerable patent office which was 
destined for me by Mr. Pitt and Lord Melville ! I venture 
to hope my success has given some pleasure to my friends 
at Greta Hall and Grasmere. It is particularly acceptable 
to me, as it enables me without imprudence, or indeed 
injustice to my family, to retire from the Bar, which I have 
always thought and felt to be an irksome and even hateful 
profession. 

I will not fail to put Mr. Duppa's work under Judge 
Jeffrey's view in the light you would have it. He is not, 
you know, the most tractable of critics, and I never 
venture to answer for him, as indeed we differ in many 
most material points of taste ; but he will not willingly do 
an ill-natured thing to a person of your friend's descrip- 

1 Lord Minto was appointed See note, page 29. 
Governor-General of Bengal, July 

1806. 3 The Coalition Government 

2 Scott and Southey had pre- under Lord Grenville, known as 
viously met in the summer of 1805. that of " All the Talents." 



1806] 



TO SOUTHEY 



39 



tion. In fact lie is the old character, the best good man 
with the worst-natured muse (if there be a muse of criti- 
cism) that ever wielded the quill of an Aristarchus. 

I grieve we are to lose you in summer, and were it not 
that I expect so much from your history, 1 I could willingly 
hope that your visit to the Douro and the Tagus should be 
converted into another trip to Tweedside, and your em- 
barkation on the Bay of Biscay into such a voyage as we 
made together on Derwent water, or at least into another 
perilous pilgrimage in my frail bark, where the ponderous 
Grecian 2 proved more than a counterpoise for the two bards. 
Seriously, if you do not go to Portugal, what think you of 
varying the scene by a winter in Edin r ? You will find 
plenty of books, and I venture to assure you plenty of 
friends. — Believe me ever, dear Sou they, yours sincerely, 

Walter Scott. 3 



1 A history of Portugal on which 
Southey was at work for many 
years, but of which only the third 
portion, treating of Brazil (in 3 vols. 
4to), was published. 

2 An allusion to Southey's visit in 
the preceding year, when he had as 
his companion Peter Elmsley (the 
distinguished Hellenist), and when 
Scott took them salmon -spearing on 
the Tweed in his coble. 

3 The foregoing is a reply to Mr. 
Southey's letter of February 4th, in 
which he says : " Wordsworth was 
with me last week. He has of late 
been more employed in correcting 
his poems than in writing others ; 
but one piece he has written upon 
the ideal character of a soldier, 
than which I have never seen any- 
thing more full of meaning and 
sound thought. The subject was 
suggested by Nelson's death, though 
having no reference to it. He had 
some thoughts of sending it to the 
Courier, in which case you will 



easily recognise his hand. . . . 

I know not whether I shall ever 
see the Tweed and the Yarrow ; 
yet I should be sorry to think I 
should not. Your scenery has left 
upon me a strong impression, more 
so from the delightful associa- 
tions which you and your country 
poets have inseparably connected 
with it. I am going in the autumn t 
if Bonaparte will let me, to streams 
as classical and as lovely — the Mon- 
dego of Camoens, the Douro and the 
Tagus ; but I shall not find such 
society on their banks. Remember 
me to my two fellow-travellers 
[Jeffrey and another friend]. Heaven 
keep them and me also from being 
the subject of any further experi- 
ments upon the infinite compres- 
sibility of matter. If Hogg should 
publish his poems, I shall be very 
glad to do what little I can in get- 
ting subscribers for him." x 

1 Southey's Life, vol. iii. p. 20. 



40 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [April 

TO MISS SEWARD. 

Ashestiel, 10th April 1806. 

. . . The Lay of the Last Minstrel has been for a long 
time so much out of my thoughts that your approbation 
recalls very pleasingly the feelings with which I composed 
it, and is something like the eulogium upon a departed 
friend. Could I have thought it would have attracted so 
much of your attention, I would have endeavoured to have 
written it better, and in consequence might very likely 
not have done it so well. Still, the flimsiness of the story 
might have been corrected by a little thought and atten- 
tion, which I now regret not having bestowed upon it. 

This is the second day of my retreat to this farm, and 
I have read your beautiful verses to Father Tweed .... 
verses I exceedingly regret not having received when 
I was in Cumberland, as my poetical friends Wordsworth 
and Southey must have been as much delighted with 
them as I am. I spent some time in their society 
very pleasantly, and Southey repaid me by visiting my 
farm. They are certainly men of very extraordinary 
powers. Wordsworth in particular is such a character as 
only exists in romance — virtuous, simple, and unaffectedly 
restricting every want and wish to the bounds of a very 
narrow income, in order to enjoy the literary and poetical 
leisure which his happiness consists in. Were it not for 
the unfortunate idea of forming a new school of poetry 
these men are calculated to give it a new impulse ; but I 
think they sometimes lose their energy in trying to find, not 
a better but a different path from what has been travelled 
by their predecessors. I saw nothing in Southey like 
literary jealousy, and should think him above it; cer- 
tainly his bearing is not always and altogether so easy 
and pleasing as that of Wordsworth, but I think it is mere 
manner. Individually, as I was not at all a subject for his 
jealousy, I am certain that neither did I excite any, though 



1806] TO MISS SEWAED 41 

much kind and free discussion took place amongst us. I 
agree with you in admiring Madoc very much: the 
descriptions of natural objects are most admirable, and 
may certainly rank with any that our poetry affords. 
Mr. Southey seems to excel in seizing either those circum- 
stances which give character to a landscape, or such as 
are so closely connected with them that the one being 
suggested to our imagination naturally and almost neces- 
sarily recalls the rest. I am not quite sure that the 
subject of such and so long a poem is altogether so well 
chosen. The exploits of Madoc necessarily recall the 
history of Cortez and the voyage of Columbus, and this 
mixture of truth and fancy is not pleasant. Whether it is 
owing to this, or that the heroes and heroines considered 
as men and women have little of that discriminating 
character which is absolutely necessary to interest a reader, 
I am unable to decide ; but so it is that Madoc sometimes 
requires an effort on the part of the reader to accompany 
him on this journey. It is, however, an effort amply repaid 
by the fine passages which perpetually occur throughout 
the poem. To the admirers of Southey I fear Thalaba will 
prove more interesting, in spite of the heretical structure 
of the measure, if indeed it deserves that name. x 

I think were you to know my little friend Jeffrey you 
would perhaps have some mercy on his criticisms ; not but 
he often makes his best friends lose patience by that love 
of severity which drives justice into tyranny : but, in fact, I 
have often wondered that a man who loves and admires 
poetry so much as he does, can permit himself the severe, 
or sometimes unjust, strictures which he fulminates even 
against the authors whom he most approves of, and whose 
works actually afford him most delight. But what shall 
we say ? Many good-natured country Tories (myself for 

1 Thalaba was published in 1800, and severely criticised in the first 
number of the Edinburgh Review. 



42 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [April 

example) take great pleasure in coursing and fishing, 
without any impeachment to their amiabilities, and probably 
Jeffrey feels the same instinctive passion for hunting down 
the bards of the day. In common life the Hon lies down 
with the kid ; for not to mention his friendship for me now 
of some standing, he had the magnanimity (absolutely 
approaching to chivalrous reliance upon the faith of a 
foe) to trust himself to Southey's guidance in a boat on 
Windermere, when it would have cost the poet nothing 
but a wet jacket to have overset the critic, and swum 
triumphantly to shore, and this the very day the review of 
Madoc was published. 1 I am afraid, however, you will 
hardly allow my apology any more than for an Arcadian 
slaughtering and cutting up his favourite lamb. . . . — 
Believe me, dear Miss Seward, very faithfully your obedient 
servant, Walter Scott. 

TO LADY DALKEITH. 

Monday. 

My dear Lady Dalkeith, — Our Ettrick Shepherd has 
laid by his pastoral reed for the more profitable employ- 
ment of valuing sheep land, in which he has given great 
satisfaction to those who engaged him, being a remarkably 
intelligent, clever fellow in the line of his business. His 
present object is to have the Duke's patronage in case his 
Grace wishes the service of such a person, as is reported. 
If there be the least chance of such an application being 
successful, I will take care to procure, and send to the 

1 Madoc was reviewed in No. sheets. The poet read the paper 

xiii., 1805. Southey had seen the with natural indignation, which he 

obnoxious article before publica- had the good sense to repress, and 

tion, as he was in Edinburgh early he met the critic with such good 

in October 1805. Jeffrey had humour and courtesy that Jeffrey 

been invited to meet him at supper, went back with him to the Lakes 

but declined doing so until he in the same stage-coach ! Southey 

had given him an opportunity of did the honours of Keswick, as 

reading the criticism on Madoc, mentioned by Scott. 
of which he then sent the printed 



1806] TO LADY DALKEITH 43 

Duke or Mr. Riddell, the necessary attestations of his skill 
and character. His charge seems moderate, and I will 
answer for his honesty: and he might be tried on a 
small scale at first. 

Lord D. being absent on his Roxburgh campaign, I 
entreat your Ladyship (though I know you do not meddle 
with business) to take an opportunity of putting the en- 
closed into the Duke's hands. If I did not think he might 
really be of use, I would not on any consideration recom- 
mend him. Indeed I fear the Duke will think his busi- 
ness is getting a little too much out of sober prose when one 
poet is dabbling in his elections, and another proffering his 
services to value his sheep farms. But I really do not feel 
entitled to suppress this application, which carries some- 
thing in it more feasible than anything hitherto proposed 
for this poor man, and also promises some advantages for 
the property from his real knowledge and skill in the 
business. 

I trust to your Ladyship's usual goodness to pardon 
this intrusion. 

TO THE SAME. 

Dear Lady Dalkeith, — I was rather surprised to 
learn by a letter received yesterday, from my friend the 
Shepherd, that he had taken the liberty of applying per- 
sonally to your Ladyship about his affairs, which I certainly 
should not have recommended to him to do. I have no 
reason to think that his disappointment can be violent, 
as I had expressed to him my strong conviction that his 
Grace must, from the mode in which he manages his estates, 
have many claims entitled to precedence both upon his 
justice and liberality. I have communicated to him your 
Ladyship's letter, and I am sure that your sympathy with 
his situation and extreme delicacy of expression, must 
tend greatly to alleviate his feelings of disappointment, if 
he indeed harbours any. It is one of the inconveniences 



44 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [June 

attached to exalted rank, that the expectations of suitors 
are apt to be unreasonable, because founded on ignorance ; 
but a kind answer to a petitioner, even when unfavourable, 
is often equivalent to an ungracious grant of his request. 
I certainly hope to pay my respects at Langholm — per- 
haps to bring with me my friend Mr. Skene of Rubislaw, 
an amiable and accomplished young man, and for a gentle- 
man the best draughtsman I ever saw. I wish him to 
take a peep at Hermitage, etc. Lord Dalkeith was so good 
as to say I might use the freedom to bring him to Lang- 
holm. — Ever your Ladyship's devoted humble servant, 

Walter Scott. 1 

to lady abercorn. 2 

9th June 1806. 

My dear Lady Marchioness, — Did you ever hear the 
French parrot's apology for its silence, — " Je pense plus ; " 
because, if you have not, I intend to adopt it for my own 
ungracious taciturnity, because during the period of busy 

1 There are no dates to these two delighted above measure with 

letters, but they have been placed many of the descriptions, and with 

under 1806, as Hogg, in writing to none more than that of William 

Scott in the April of that year, says of Deloraine, but I have picked 

with characteristic indifference : — some faults which I have not now 

" My dear Scott, I wrote to Lady time to explain. ... I have not 

Dalkeith on the same day I wrote yet discovered what the terrible 

you last, simply thanking her parade of fetching Michael Scott's 

for her kind attentions. ... I book from the tomb proved, or 

have met with no disappointment what was done with it of conse- 

from his Grace's refusal. Never quence before it was returned, and 

be concerned about that ! " And fear it will be construed as resorted 

he concludes with this delicious bit to for the sake of furnishing the sub- 

of innocent egotism and shrewd lime and awful description. — I am, 

criticism on The Lay of the Last your ever grateful Shepherd." 

Minstrel. 2 The Marchioness of Abercorn, 

"I had a present of a very ele- to whom Scott wrote veryconfiden- 

gant copy of the Lay, lately, from tially, was Anne Jane, daughter of 

a gentleman in Edinburgh, to whom the second Earl of Arran. She 

I was ashamed to confess that I had died in May 1827, thus predeceasing 

it not. This is just to give you a Scott, but the long series of letters 

hint that the present should have preserved by the noble lady shews 

come from some other hand. I am how constant was their friendship, 



1806] TO LADY ABERCORN 45 

idleness which has elapsed since I saw the cottage at the 
Priory, I have very often thought of it and its kind and 
condescending mistress. 

When I had rejoined my little family, which I found 
at our own mountain farm, closed in by many a dark blue 
hill, I had a great number of trifles to adjust which the 
head of a family among us little people generally finds it 
best to look after himself. There were sheep to be bought 
and bullocks to be sold. There was a sick horse and a 
lame greyhound to be cured. There were salmon to be 
caught and poachers to be punished. Now, though I 
know very little about some of these matters, yet I find it 
very convenient to let it be supposed I am very knowing 
and anxious upon the subject, although it costs me a good 
deal of trouble to keep up my credit. 

When I came to town I had to take possession of my 
new office, which your Ladyship will hardly suppose a 
very difficult one when you are informed that I am actually 
scribbling at my bureau amidst the clamour of the lawyers, 
— " the drowsy bench, the babbling hall," 2 being my im- 
mediate neighbours. I have however acquired such a 
happy command over my imagination that even in these 
untoward circumstances I can represent to myself how 
beautiful the groves of the Priory must now appear in all 
the glory of midsummer foliage. 

I have not forgot a promise so flattering to my vanity 
as that you would permit me to have a share in ornament- 
ing the interior of the cottage. I am not coxcomb enough 

how frequently Scott claimed her treat from Saturday till Monday, 

patronage, and how readily it was Scott's connection with this family 

granted, sometimes for himself, but arose, in the first instance, from his 

much oftener for others. father, and afterwards from his 

When Scott in earlier years brother Thomas having the man- 

visited London, either Sunning agement of the Abercorn estates in 

Hill, George Ellis's country house, Scotland. 

or Lord Abercorn's villa, The Priory J Blackstone, The Lawyer's Fare- 

at Stanmore, was his favourite re- well to his Muse. 



46 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [June 

to use the common phrase that the Muses have been 
unpropitious, but the truth is that I have not been able to 
do anything lately that has pleased me, and consequently 
nothing that would be worthy of so honourable a station 
as the walls of the Cottage. I did two little things for 
Welsh tunes some time ago, and when I can furnish them 
with companions I will do myself the honour of sending 
them to the Priory. 

I am much flattered by your Ladyship's inquiries about 
my literary engagements. My grand edition of Dryden's 
Works is advancing, I hope prosperously. The booksellers 
are publishing a fourth edition of the Lay, and also some of 
the ballads which call me father, from the Border collection 
that I formerly published. I intend to add to these last a 
few little things so as to make them into a little volume, 
which I will take an early opportunity of laying at your 
Ladyship's feet. Besides all this, I have a grand work in 
contemplation, but so distant, so distant that the distance 
between Edinburgh and Stanmore is nothing to it. This is 
a Highland romance of Love, Magic, and War, founded upon 
the manners of our mountaineers, with my stories about 
whom your Ladyship was so much interested. My great 
deficiency is that being born and bred not only a lowlander 
but a borderer, I do not in the least understand the Gaelic 
language, and therefore am much at a loss to find authentic 
materials for my undertaking. . . . — Adieu, my dear Lady 
Marchioness. Believe me, with the greatest respect and 
regard, ever your Ladyship's much obliged and most 
obedient humble servant, Walter Scott. 

TO THE SAME. 

[Edin., June 1806.] 

Dear Lady Marchioness, — I enclose a trifling song 1 

1 When Scott returned to Edin- nents were dissatisfied that the ap- 
burgh from London in March he pointment of Clerk of Session had 
found some of his political oppo- been confirmed to him by the Whig 



1806] TO LADY ABERCORN 47 

which was sung with immense approbation at a meeting of 
five hundred select friends of Lord Melville, from which your 
Ladyship will probably be of opinion that they approved 
too much of the sentiment to be very critical about the 
poetry. I also scratched down another ballad the morn- 
ing of the day of meeting, of which a few copies have been 
printed, and if I can get one in time to save the post I will 
also enclose it. I am sure your Ladyship, with your usual 
goodness, will not suppose that by sending you these little 
foolish things, I think them at all worthy of your accept- 
ance, but will just receive them as graciously as the 
Duchess in Don Quixote accepts of the half dozen acorns 
from the wife of Sancho Panza. There is in the printed 
ditty a little attempt at a tribute to the memory of the 
never to be forgotten Pitt, which drew tears from many of 
the jovial party to whom it was addressed. I have only 
room and time to add how much I always am the 
Marchioness of Abercorn's most faithful and respectful 
humble servant, Walter Scott. 

FROM LADY ROSSLYN. 1 

Dysart, Thursday. 

My dear Sir, — I certainly feel much flattered that you 
should have thought it worth while to have written to me 2 
upon the subject of what I said to Mr. Kae. As I cannot 

Government, and he resented this in 1810. Scott, in writing of her 

manifestation of feeling by a more to a common friend, says : " She 

active participation in party poli- is gone, with all the various talent 

tics. and vivacity that rendered her 

Three months after he was gazet- society so delightful. I regret her 

ted, a public dinner was given in loss the more as she died with- 

Edinburgh on June 27th in honour out ever making up some unkind- 

of Lord Melville's acquittal, at ness she had towards me for those 

which Scott was present. The foolish politics. It is an example 

song alluded to gave great offence of the great truth that life is too 

to some of his friends, among short for the indulgence of ani- 

others to Lady Rosslyn. mosity." 

1 Lady Rosslyn, eldest daughter 2 Scott's letter has not been pre- 

of the Hon. Edward Bouverie, died served at Dysart House. 



48 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [August 

think my opinion can be of any consequence to you, I 
regret as much and perhaps more than you do, that any 
circumstances should arise to make a coolness between us ; 
nor do I expect that the political sentiments of all my 
friends should be the same as mine, as a proof of which 
I believe you will recollect that politics was a topic upon 
which you and I never agreed, but in this particular 
instance I cannot help feeling the song alluded to as an 
uncalled for mark of personal disrespect to Mr. Fox. 1 
The lesson he taught and practised during the course of 
his life was that of forgiveness of injuries ; it is a lesson, 
which, much as I admire, I feel I cannot put in practice 
where he is concerned, as he would have done. 

I beg this subject, which is unpleasant and even pain- 
ful to me, may not be renewed. With my best com- 
pliments to Mrs. Scott, believe me, dear sir, yours sincerely, 

H. ROSSLYN. 
TO LADY ABERCORN. 

ASHESTIEL, BY SELKIRK, 

6th August 1806. 

My dear Lady Marchioness, — ... I am now, thank 
God, got to my little farm, and I really wish I had the 
lamp of Aladdin or the tapestry of some other eastern 
Magician, whose name I have forgot, but you will find 
the story among the records of the immortal Scheherazade. 
Could I possibly command so easy a conveyance, I would 
certainly transport your Ladyship to this retreat, with 
which I have the vanity to think you would be pleased 
for a day, were it only for the extraordinary contrast 
between the scenery here and at the Priory. 

Our whole habitation could dance very easily in your 
great salon without displacing a single moveable or en- 
dangering a mirror. We have no green pastures nor 

1 The song, in which occurred the unfortunate line Tally ho to the Fox, 
is given in Lockhart's Life. 



1806] TO LADY ABERCORN 49 

stately trees, but to make amends, we have one of the 
most beautiful streams in the world, winding through steep 
mountains, which are now purple with the heath blossom. 
We are eight miles from the nearest market-town, 
and four from the nearest neighbour. The last circum- 
stance I by no means regret, but the first is productive 
of very curious shifts and ludicrous distresses well worthy 
of being recorded in the Miseries of Human Life, — a very 
diverting little volume which, if your Ladyship has not 
seen, I beg you will add to your book-shelves on my 
recommendation. For example, my scrutoire having 
travelled by some slow conveyance, I was obliged — not to 
mention searching half an hour for this solitary sheet of 
letter paper — to sally forth and shoot a crow to procure a 
quill, which performs its duty extremely ill, as your Lady- 
ship is witness. I am afraid that this candid declaration 
of our wants, and the difficulty of supplying them, 
will make the Marchioness bless her stars that the 
lamp and tapestry is out of fashion. But don't be afraid 
too soon : for the main business of the day we have the 
best mutton in the world, and find by experience that 
the air of our hills makes an excellent sauce. Then we 
have pigs and poultry, and a whole apparatus of guns, 
fishing-rods, salmon spears, and nets for the employment 
of male visitors, who do not find their sport less agree- 
able because part of their dinner depends upon it. 

Then grouse-shooting begins bye and bye, and I have 
some very good coveys on the moors, besides the privilege 
of going far and wide over those of my neighbour the 
Duke of Buccleuch, a favour not the less readily granted 
because, like many other persons in this world, I make more 
noise than I do mischief. Then, if all this is insufficient, 
you shall have hare soup ; for am I not the Sheriff of the 
County, and may I not break the laws when I please and 
course out of season ? Besides all this you shall have one 

VOL. I. d 



50 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [August 

of the kindest welcomes which our hospitable mountaineers 
can afford. So pray don't quarrel with my lamp or tapestry 
any more. I only wish it was possible for you to make 
good this little dream. 

I saw Lord and Lady Melville before I left town, and 
dined at Melville Castle. I never saw the veteran states- 
man looking better or in more high spirits. He was very 
full of the pleasant visit he had made at the Priory just 
before he set out. His journey, too, had been very flattering 
to his feelings — nothing but huzzaing and cheering in 
almost all the towns they had occasion to pass through. I 
was much tempted to accept of a kind invitation they 
gave me to their seat in the Highlands, where I could have 
collected some materials for my projected romance; on 
the other side I have copied a few verses which I intend to 
begin one of the Tales in my Highland Komance. They 
are supposed to be sung by an old Seannachie or man of 
Talk, or in short Tale-teller, who, by what accident I know 
as little as your Ladyship, has strolled into the Lowlands ; 
but my mind was on this little crib, and I could not find 
in my heart to leave it. 

I am a good deal interested in the discussions which 
have been proceeding concerning the Princess of Wales. 
Having had the honour to eat of her salt, I should \>e 
extremely sorry to think there was the least chance of her 
being trammelled, either by her own imprudence or other- 
wise, in the toils of her accusers. Of this however I hope 
there is no danger. 1 

1 W. Stewart Rose had written more particularly alive to her dis- 

to Scott on this subject on July tress. From many circumstances 

23rd : "I wish I could give you which have reached mine ears, I 

any satisfactory account of the am convinced that her persecution 

Princess of Wales's affair. I feel forms part of a most extravagant 

entirely with you as to the cruelty scheme, which nothing but the mad- 

of her situation, and, having eat ness of the supposed projector could 

her salt, have in some degree the render credible. When I tell you 

same motive as yourself for being that the Prince of Wales some time 



1806] TO LADY ABEECORN 51 

I must now break off, as I must ride about ten miles to 
a County meeting about roads, being the dullest of all 
dull amusements, though country gentlemen have such a 
peculiar pleasure in it, that one of my neighbours used to 
travel with the Turnpike Act of Parliament in his pocket, 
till I told him it was against the law, which prohibits 
carrying concealed arms. I shall however see my friend 
and fishing crony Lord Somerville, 1 and get a cover for this 
letter, as the Marquis is, I suspect, long since in green 
Erin. Mrs. Scott has the honour to offer her respects, and 
I am, with sincere respect and regard, ever your Ladyship's 
most faithful humble servant, Walter Scott. 

FROM FRANCIS JEFFREY. 

Edinr., 11 Sept. 1806. 

My dear Scott, — I am come back in safety to my 
lonely house in this lonely and deserted city, and I write 
to you immediately on my arrival, partly to comfort my 
spirits and partly to supplicate your assistance in my 
never-ending task of reviewing. Brougham has gone to 
Portugal. I made Horner idle by being with him. 
Thomson is buried under Kecords, and almost all my occa- 

since openly affirmed that he had time, she has, as I before hinted, 
the power to crush the Princess of afforded much matter for reproach, 
Wales when he pleased ; that he and what if substantiated against a 
formerly professed his entire in- woman educated in English habits, 
difference to her; and, though he would amount to a moral con vie- 
then believed, or professed to be- tion of guilt. As it is, I should no 
lieve, that she was all that her more suffer my opinions of her 
accusers at present maintain her character to be influenced by such 
to be, that the first paragraph of traits, than I should infer profligacy 
Lady Douglas's 1 evidence now in a man from looseness of conver- 
states her information to be given sation. ..." 

either at his suggestion or command, * John, 15th Baron, who for some 

. . . when all these things are put years made the " Pavilion " on the 

together you will, I think, agree Tweed his summer residence ; he 

with me in the conclusion to be was Scott's companion in all field 

deduced from them. In the mean- sports and his acknowledged mas- 

a Wife of Sir John Douglas. ter in Forestry. 



52 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Sept. 

sional allies and auxiliaries are scattered into watering-places, 
deriding all sorts of applications and laughing at all 
demonstrations of distress. You must do me a good spell 
of work this time, or there is no salvation for me. I depend 
upon Sir William's "Beattie," 1 and I beg you will take 
some pains with it, and do not let your private affection 
suborn your critical impartiality. We once spoke of your 
leaving Beattie's metaphysics to me, and I still wish that 
you would. I read his " Truth " in London, and am ready 
to give a short character of it. It will be easy to inter- 
polate it in your article. If you think it worth while 
you can give me a catch-word and block out the niche 
for it. 

Will you look at Thornton's tour with the Dogs, 2 or 
anything else poetical or antiquarian that you hear of 
and I do not ? I had an offer in London of a review of the 
Miseries, which it was necessary for me (at least for the 
good of the commonwealth) to accept, so I will not trouble 
you for that ; but if you have devised any good things on 
the subject, I wish you would note them down that I may 
enrich my town article with them. 3 

I have a great deal to say to you of London and London 
men, but not at present ; we must talk over these things 
some long afternoon. I still live in hope of passing four 
or five old days with you at Ashestiel before the 12 of 
November. Is there any chance of Wordsworth visiting 
Scotland this season? I understand W. Erskine is with 

1 Sir William Forbes's Life of Poems, which were printed in the 
Beattie. 17th No. (Oct. 1806), but if he re- 

2 Col. Thornton's Sporting Tour viewed Forbes' Life of Beattie he 
in France had just been published. did not claim the article. The 
His previous work on Scotland was "metaphysics" in it are unques- 
reviewed by Scott in the Edinburgh tionably Jeffrey's own, whoever 
Review for January 1805. wrote the rest of the amusing and 

3 In reply to this appeal, Scott caustic paper, which appeared in 
sent Jeffrey the humorous paper on the number for April 1807. In 
Beresford's Miseries of Human Life, Jeffrey's collected essays it is not 
and a criticism on Herbert's/ce'ancfo'c fully reprinted. 



1806] FROM FRANCIS JEFFREY 53 

you. Could you not stimulate his ungenerous indolence 
to do something for us ? Poet Macneil or Billy Richardson ? 
I shall keep his secret if he wishes to be private. Thomson 
will not be down for a fortnight at least, and Murray, I 
suppose, will come with him. The said Lord Register is 
very industriously employed in the Museum, and had the 
virtue to refuse going a very delightful little tour which 
Murray and I made to the Isle of Wight, that he might go 
on with his work without interruption. He is an admirable 
fellow, and I love and respect him more, the more I see of 
him. Farewell, my dear Scott ; for heaven's sake do not 
procrastinate anything you mean to do for me, and do not 
let that old knave John Dryden, or those old knaves the 
Lords Commissioners of Justiciary, come between me and 
your good intentions. Remember me very kindly to Mrs. 
S., and believe me always, very affectionately yours, 

F. Jeffrey. 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Ashestiel, 20th September 1806. 

Nothing except the fairy Goodwill, or the Marchioness 
of Abercorn, could possibly supply the minute wants of 
their friends' domestic economy, at the distance of so 
many hundred miles as are between the Priory and the 
Forest of Ettrick. 

The little parcel of quills is quite a treasure, and as to 
their everlasting duration I shall be happy to find that 
they possess a quality which we sometimes miss in Love, 
Friendship, and Fidelity, however fondly ascribed to them. 
The worst of the little packet is that it removes all 
apologies for a very indifferent hand, and transfers the 
blame so often laid on the innocent goose quill to the 
fingers of the clumsy writer himself. 

I am quite delighted with the little heroine of your 
thunder storm. I hope she will not lose the benefit of 



54 SCOTT'S FAMILIAK LETTERS [Sept. 

your Ladyship's protection, as she is certainly reserved for 
some great things. The state of our own weather has 
been most calamitous. Land floods, river floods, water 
spouts, and torrents and tempests of all kinds and 
denominations, have almost laid waste our country. One 
day the thunder was so tremendous as actually to affect 
my hearing for some time. The lightning broke within a 
hundred yards of our farm house, but fortunately did no 
damage, except that the concussion threw^down the bricks, 
etc., from the top of the chimneys : we thought it quite 
near enough. 1 There were, however, no tragic incidents in 
our immediate neighbourhood except the death of a poor 
pony. Our rivers and brooks, always sufficiently rapid, 
became the most furious torrents which it was possible to 
behold. Ricks of hay, whole acres of young and old trees, 
even cattle and horses came swimming past us without 
the possibility of our giving any assistance. One gentle- 
man of this country, Ogilvie of Chesters, has sustained 
more than a thousand pounds worth of damage, much of 
which is absolutely irreparable, as the very soil is carried 
away. Another gentleman has totally lost a large and 
valuable garden which a small rivulet that in general 
winded very peaceably through it, chose to carry off entirely. 

Minto House was in great danger, the inhabitants 
driven to the upper rooms, as the lower part of the 
mansion was quite filled with water. A heroic cook-maid 
secured a sirloin of beef in her retreat, otherwise the 
plague of famine would have been added to the distresses 
of the sufferers. 

I have been several days out upon the moors in hopes 
of making up a box of game for the Priory, but the wet 
weather has made the grouse so wild that neither by my 
own exertions nor those of my friends have I been ever 

1 "Charlotte (Mrs. Scott) re- a preface to the end of the world." 
solved to die in bed like a good — Scott to Skene. 
Christian ; the servants said it was 



1806] TO LADY ABERCORN 55 

able to get above a brace or two in the day, and as they 
have not, like your Ladyship's kind present, the faculty 
of everlasting duration, to be fit to send they should 
all be killed on the same day. I still hope to be more 
fortunate. 

I observe from the papers that the Marquis is still in 
Ireland, and has received the thanks of the country for his 
unceasing exertions in bringing Judge Fox to account. I 
suppose, however, his stay will not be very long in that 
country, as I presume there will be much bustle in the 
political world in consequence of Mr. Fox's death. He was 
certainly a great man, yet it so happened that there was 
never a human being whose talents were of less service to 
his country. How different from Pitt ! 

I am not apt to be very much exalted with any success 
which my literary essays have obtained, because I know 
very well how much is owing to chance, how much to 
novelty, and how little to any actual merit they may 
possess. But in telling me I have been so fortunate as to 
please Mr. Pitt, your Ladyship gives me something to 
be justifiably proud of till my dying day; and I can 
say without affectation that I would rather have the 
satisfaction of having been approved by him, though now 
dead, than by all the living statesmen and nobility in 
Europe. From the pilotless state in which the political 
vessel has remained since his death, his worst enemies may 
be taught to appreciate the extent of his unequalled 
talents. 

We have been threatened with a visit of the Heir 
Apparent — a very serious business to the poor Scottish 
nobility who might have deemed it necessary to receive 
him, and somehow not very acceptable to the people at 
large. It certainly requires ingenuity in a personage whose 
very smile is a favour, and therefore who has popularity 
so much at his own command, to contrive so totally to 



56 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

get rid of what naturally attaches to one from whom much 
might have been hoped, and little feared, if he had chosen 
it should be so. 

Your Ladyship is very good to inquire after Dryden. I 
have, I assure you, been labouring very hard through the 
old libels and pamphlets of the time to complete the 
historical notices upon his political poems ; and I am at 
least willing to hope that I have been in some degree 
successful. I am very anxious to procure copies if possible 
of three original letters that are among the Duke of 
Dorset's papers, written by Dryden to his Grace's ancestor, 
the witty Earl of Dorset. I am quite at a loss' for a 
channel to approach this great man : perhaps you may be 
able either to give me some assistance, or at least your 
kind advice. If he is accessible to any of our Scottish 
nobles, I could contrive, directly or indirectly, to procure 
their mediation. It is of tl^e greatest consequence to me 
to procure them if possible. 

I hope with my next to send one or two little songs for 
the decoration of the Cottage. — Your very respectful and 
faithful, W. Scott. 

TO LORD DALKEITH. 

Edinr., Castle Street, 
23 Nov. [1806]. 

My dear Lord Dalkeith, — ... I understand you 
wish to know, for the information of my old friend 
and fellow-collegian Lord Selkirk, the circumstances which 
attended the dismission of the superfluous population who 
occupied the estates of the Border chieftains when they 
were converted into sheep-walks. There are particular 
difficulties which attend the investigation, and make it in a 
great measure obscure, compared to the history of the 
same change which has taken place in our own day in the 
Highlands. 



1806] TO LOED DALKEITH 57 

The state of the Borders before the accession of James 
vi v and of the Highlands, strictly resemble each other 
with respect to internal circumstances. The patriarchal 
right or dominion of a Chieftain of a clan over those of 
the same name, and who were presumed to be of the same 
family with himself, — a right of dominion the most ancient 
in the world, — was acknowledged in both countries, while 
the authority exercised by the Lowland Scottish nobles and 
barons depended upon the feudal principle of superior and 
vassal, or upon that of landlord and tenant. This is proved 
by the Act of James vi.'s Parliament 1587, when a roll is 
made up of the clans in the Borders and Highlands who 
lived under the patriarchal dominion of the Captains and 
Chieftains, — " ofttimes," says the Statute, " against the will 
of their landlords, on whose grounds they live." 

The change which took place at the Union of the 
Crowns upon the Border clans chiefly respected the crushing 
of this patriarchal or clannish authority, if I may so call it. 
There were also measures taken, and apparently very 
prudently, to remove from the country many of those fiery 
and unruly spirits who had hitherto been maintained by 
the Border chiefs to serve in their quarrels, and who had 
subsisted chiefly by spoil and depredation. Your Lordship's 
ancestor Walter, the first Earl of Buccleuch, formed a 
legion of these freebooters, who served under him in the 
Dutch wars against the Spaniard, from which probably 
few of them returned. 

A whole clan (the Graems) were transported to Ireland 
by an order of James's Privy Council. Repeated and severe 
executions under the authority of the Earl of Dunbar 
thinned or dispersed the rest of the Border riders who had 
subsisted by depredation. But it would be a mistake to sup- 
pose that these changes (although unquestionably they 
drained off the more enterprising and warlike of the Border- 
ers) had any immediate effect upon the population at large. 



58 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

Sir William Scott of Harden, who wrote in the end of 
the seventeenth century an account of Roxburghshire, and 
who is the best possible authority, as the representative of 
a Border leader of great note, says that before the accession 
of James to the English Crown no rent was paid on the 
Border excepting man-service in war, and some little ac- 
knowledgment known by the name of heregeld, and other 
feudal prestations. Some change must very shortly have 
taken place in this respect, so soon as the safety of the 
country was so ascertained that the Laird had more need 
for money than for men. 

But the change seems to have been very slow and 
gradual. The Borders were not, like the Highlands, sur- 
rounded by a country in a civilised state, whose stock and 
farmers were ready to rush in upon this change of manners, 
to fill the purses of the landlord and to empty the land 
of its ancient military tenants. On the contrary, the rest 
of Scotland was so poor, and its inhabitants so uninstructed 
in the art of farming to advantage — in short, the difference 
between the Borders and the interior was comparatively so 
small, — that I suspect no change of inhabitants took place at 
all, but that the descendants of the old reivers, or such of 
them as were reclaimed, beat their own swords and their 
fathers' into ploughshares, and sat down to do their best in 
cultivating their own country instead of plundering their 
neighbours. 

Besides, as I have already mentioned, although the 
patriarchal power of the Chieftains was broken, those who 
were landed proprietors retained their feudal authority over 
their vassals and tenants. Neither was the seventeenth 
century so secure as to induce any one to increase his rent- 
roll at the risk of greatly diminishing his retainers. The 
frequent civil wars, and the unsettled state of the country 
must have greatly retarded the progress of those causes of 
depopulation which have operated with such rapidity in 



1806] TO LOED DALKEITH 59 

the Highlands, where there was nothing to balance the 
landlords' natural desire, except the pride of some in- 
dividuals and the compassion of others. It must also be 
considered that during the seventeenth century there was 
comparatively little of our Border country occupied 
by sheep-walks. Black cattle were in high estimation, and 
the number of hands necessary to attend this kind of stock 
is much more numerous than that requisite for sheep. 

I do not therefore think that the Union of the Crowns, 
although it broke the warlike and turbulent spirit of the 
Borders, had any immediate effect on the extent of the 
population. But within eighty years after that event, the 
bond between chieftain and kinsman seems to have been 
much broken. To take the individual case of our own 
Clan, whose patriarchal notions seem to have been much 
diminished by the Duchess of Monmouth marrying and 
residing in England, Scott of Satchells, whose doggerel 
poetry contains sometimes a peep of manners, complains 
heavily of the alteration this had produced to the poor 
kinsfolk of the family : — 

" In England now the Duchess dwells, 
Which to her friends is a cursed fate, 
For if they famish, starve, or die, 
They cannot have a groat from that estate. 
The times of old are quite forgot — 
How inferior friends had still relief, 
And how the worthiest of the name 
Engaged themselves to hold up their chief," etc, 

About this time, as appears from the writing of the same 
elegant poet, the sheep were universally introduced. 
Satchells served in the regiment which Buccleuch carried 
to Holland, and enlisted about 1627 ; he wrote his book in 
1688, so he is tolerable traditional authority. 

A cause which hastened the conversion of the Border 
into sheep-walks was the downfall of the small proprietors. 
Satchells names an hundred landed proprietors of the 



60 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

name of Scott living on the Borders in 1688, in which he 
would hardly be mistaken. I think in the same tract of 
country we cannot now find ten. 

Each of these persons maintained his little style, and 
had a few cottages round his old tower, whose inhabitants 
made a desperate effort to raise some corn by scratching 
up the banks of the stream which winded through their 
glen. 1 These are all gone, and their followers have dis- 
appeared along with them. I suppose it became more and 
more difficult for them, after the union of the Crowns, to 
keep the name and port of gentlemen; they fell into distress, 
sold their lands, and the farmers who succeeded them, and 
had rent to pay to those who bought the estates, got rid of 
the superfluous cottagers with all despatch. I have often 
heard my grandmother and other old people talk of the 
waefu' year when seven Lairds of the Forest (all Scotts) 
became bankrupt at once, but how or why I know not. 
The farmers, when they had got rid of the inactive retainers 
of the small properties, seem to have gone on for a long 
time reducing the number of people on their farms. The 
ruins of cottages about every farmhouse in the country 
show that this last cause of depopulation continued to 
operate till a very late period, and indeed within the 
memory of man. I could name many farms where the 
old people remember twenty smoking chimneys, and where 
there are now not two. 

From all these considerations I am induced to think 
that the causes of depopulation on the Border, although 
quite the same with those in the Highlands, occurred 
gradually, and were insensible in their operation, while 
the singular circumstance of the Highlands retaining their 
ancient manners till the Lowlands had attained the highest 
pitch of civilisation, has occasioned their passing from a 

1 Compare Scott's descriptions of tower of Westburn flat, in the early 
the farm of Haughhead and the chapters of the Black Dwarf. 



1806] TO LOKD DALKEITH 61 

race of warriors into a handful of shepherds in the course 
of fifty years, a change not completely operated on the 
Borders within three times the period. In evidence of the 
last circumstance I forgot to mention that in the time of 
the late Duke of Douglas, the Jedwood Forest estate (now 
entirely a sheep-walk) was divided among sixty or seventy 
tenants, who were bound to furnish three armed men on 
horseback each, for their landlord's military service. This 
was within the memory of man, and Lord Douglas's tacks l 
will show it. I cannot but mention, though it has no 
immediate reference to your Lordship's inquiry, that there 
seems to be an alteration of management fast creeping 
into the sheep-farms. It is now found impossible to put 
a full stock of sheep upon the farm during the summer 
unless provision is made to assist them with food in winter. 
This can only be done by the turnip husbandry, and as 
that requires a great number of hands, the farmers who do 
not lie near a town or village are as anxious to have 
cottagers upon their estates as they were formerly desirous 
of banishing them ; and this the more, as they find by 
experience that they are more regular, sober, and manage- 
able than hired servants or labourers. In this way we 
may hope that our valleys will gradually be repeopled with 
a hardy and virtuous peasantry. As to our military 
propensities, and attachment to such of the ancient chiefs 
and landholders as have retained the ancient ideas towards 
their tenants, I think I know one estate on which the 
proprietor might for a brush raise at least three thousand 
men by the summons of his Baron officers. But in the 
general case the vulgar saying of "No longer pipe, no longer 
dance," applies to landlord and tenant, chieftain and clan, 
superior and vassal, and in short, to all the relations of 
mankind. Excuse this hurried and confused statement, — 
and I am ever, my dear Lord, your Lordship's most obedient 
and much obliged, Walter Scott. 

1 The Scotch term for leases. 



62 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 

TO ADAM FERGUSON. 1 

Edinr. 16 Dec. 1806. 
{Given from our black table.) 

Having a few moments' time at our black table, and 
the Bart., 2 in the abundance of his Parliamentary connec- 
tions and friendships having promised to give me a Jciver? 
I think I cannot employ time or a frank better than by 
inquiring whether you have got rid of the unlucky typhus, 
which I hear from the valiant knight aforesaid has laid 
its claws upon you. I hate to hear any of my friends 
talk of a disorder by its scientific name ; it is a sign it has 
taken a little hold of his mind, and that he has made 
further investigation about it than is consistent with the 
idea of its being a transient guest. I beg therefore that 
the typhus may as speedily as possible assume the more 
humble denomination of a feverish cold, unless you mean 
to be set down among the learned Lord Admiral's catalogue 
of scientific infirmities. You know our old friend Braxie 4 
cut short one of Maconochie's learned queries about the 
vena cava, " Hout awa wi' your Macavas, Mr. Maconochie." 
Even so say I, " Hout awa wi' your Typhus, Mr. Secretary." 
When you shall have got quite stout, which I hope and 
trust will be by the time this reaches you, I will absolutely 
envy your situation in Jersey, where there must be so many 
things both curious and entertaining, — Claret in plenty for 
noonday and night, Nantz for discussion and a midnight 
chat, lithe French lasses with their black eyes and natural 
vivacity, scratching each other for the honour of dancing and 
flirting with Mr. Secretary. With what contempt you must 
recollect a nipperkin of whisky-punch, and the lang-trained 
frost-bitten dearies of your ci-devant friend Cardrona ! 6 

1 Afterwards Sir Adam Ferguson, 4 Robert Macqueen of Braxfield, 

who was at this time secretary to Lord Justice-Clerk, 

the Governor of the Channel Is- 5 Mr Williamson of Cardrona, an 

lands, and stationed at St. Heliers, elderly friend of Scott's, whose 

Jersey. 2 William Clerk. humours he celebrates in Malachi 

3 Vide Humphrey Clinker, Malagrowther. 
"Cover" or "Frank." See p, 91, n. 



1806] TO ADAM FERGUSON 63 

But instead of writing nonsense, you will expect no 
doubt that I should give you a little news from Auld 
Keekie. I presume you will be little edified or enter- 
tained by an extract from my new work, which is to be 
entitled " Clerk Scott's Decisions/' and is to come out on 
cream-coloured, wire-wove paper, printed by Ballantyne, 
with a vignette to each number, the first to represent 
Hermand rampant, and Polkemmet couchant, and Banna- 
tyne dormant 1 I will therefore tell you concisely that 
the country gentlemen are cutting each others' throats 
about politics, while the blackguards of the town have 
more sensibly done an unfortunate porter 2 who was loaded 
with £6000 belonging to the British Linen Company, and 
was murdered in daylight at the head of the Bank Office 
close, and within twenty yards of their Secretary. He was 
most dexterously despatched with a single stab through 
the very heart, so that he died without a single groan, and 
the assassin escaped with his booty. I declare this story 



1 Three Judges of the Court of seemed to haunt him. I have been 
Session. told that suspicion had approached 

2 William Begbie was the man's him very nearly, when he corn- 
name, and his murderer was never mitted suicide. The thing was 
discovered, but Scott has written on then smothered, through respect to 
the margin of his copy of the Trial the feelings of his connections. " 

of Mackoull, Edinburgh, 8 vo., 1822: This crime must have made a 

" Circumstances have gone far to great impression on Scott at the 

fix this cruel and mysterious crime time, as many years after he was 

on one , a surgeon in Leith, re- able to describe the weapon used 

spectably connected and married by the murderer, 

to the daughter of a worthy and "The knife was a remarkable 

substantial burgher of Edinburgh. one, such as bread is sliced with, 

. . . This lad was a profligate and having a wooden handle ; the blade 

spendthrift, who had exhausted his was short, broad, and keenly tem- 

patrimony, and was in great ne- pered ; it had the shop-mark of the 

cessity at the time of the murther. person who sold it, and the shop 

Soon afterwards he became pos- grease was still upon it, so that it 

sessed of money, paid his debts, and had never been used but for the 

seemed to live well without any fatal purpose. It had been pre- 

sensible addition of means. His pared for the deed by grinding the 

discourse frequently turned on the extremity to a sharp point and 

murder of Begbie, and the story double edge." 



64 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTEES [Dec. 

makes me grouze * whenever I think of it. The man is 
probably in the better ranks of life, from the precautions 
and desperation of the action, — very likely somebody on 
the verge of bankruptcy, that awful interval when the 
best men are apt to become flurried, and those who are 
naturally bad are quite desperate. If this be the case, he will 
probably never be discovered unless by some mere chance, 
as he will not, like a low ruffian, be either suspected from the 
quantity of the booty, or obliged to fly from his habitation. 

I had but a lonely time at Ashestiel this year, and 
often wished we could see you and Bob 2 looming upon the 
Peebles road. Almost my only companion, if that is not 
too free a word for a great Lord of the Bedchamber, was 
our neighbour Lord Somerville. It is a pity to think 
how we, who were so inseparable in former days, are now 
squandered abroad and sequestered at home. Poor 
Edmonstone's 3 health is I fear irrecoverable, and what 
makes it more melancholy, if possible, his health — I mean 
his bodily health — seems, I understand, to gain ground as 
his mental faculties give way. I understand that there is 
a plan, certainly the most advantageous in his situation, 
that a pension equivalent to the salary of the Sheriffdom 
shall be settled on him and Mrs. E. for their joint lives, 
and then the Bart. 4 will I hope succeed to Bute. 

Pray write to me soon, and let me know that you are 
well and happy. We very often think and talk of you, and 
it would make you too vain were I to tell you how much 
you are regretted here. 

Charlotte sends you kindest remembrances. The Laird 
of Gilnockie has got short clothes, and promises to be a 
strapper. — Believe me ever yours affectionately, 

Walter Scott. 

1 Groose or Gruze, v.n. To Bute, one of the members of " the 
shudder. — Jamieson. Club" of 1788. See Journal, ii. 

2 Probably their friend Robert p. 314. 

Shortreed. 4 i.e. William Clerk, previously 

3 J. J. Edmonstone, Sheriff of noted p. 62. 



1807] FEOM ADAM FEKGUSON 65 

FROM ADAM FERGUSON. 

Government House, St. Heliers, Jersey, 
Uh March 1807. 

My dear Walter, — I trust our friend the Bart, some 
time ago told you that I had had the great satisfaction of 
receiving your most welcome letter, and I can hardly 
believe the evidence of my own eyesight on looking at its 
date to find that two months have since elapsed. . . . The 
garrison consists of five regiments of the line, besides six of 
island militia, and whether it be that I view them through 
a very favourable medium, I think I never met with so 
many honest good fellows together before. I am every day 
more and more convinced that the military profession was 
my predestinated one. A cruel reflection no doubt arises 
that I should have lost so many of the prime years of my 
life in sauntering and idling about that vile Outer House. 
However, Optimism for ever. Whether I shall live to arrive 
at the rank of Field-officer time must show. Failing this 
consummation of all military happiness, and though the 
worst should come to the worst — that I be left adrift a 
half-pay captain — I think, with a very little farm on the 
banks of the Tweed between Peebles and Selkirk, 1 and a 
" Petite " with 5, or 6000 in hand to keep the pot tolerably 
well filled, with an occasional easy visit to my friend the 
Sheriff, I could pass my time very much to my liking. 
This plan may appear visionary to you so far as the bit is 
concerned, but between ourselves a blessing may light 
unexpectedly and the ci-devant scapegrace Linton 2 may 
live to be a warm Country Gentleman. I have left no 
room to tell you much about these islanders. ... I get 
on very pleasantly with them. ... I hear their little 
French chansons and give them Scotch airs in return. 

1 The same wish is expressed by was realised when he took up his 

Ferguson in a letter written to abode at Huntly Burn. 

Scott a good many years later, from 2 Ferguson's nickname. See 

the lines of Torres Vedras, and it Lockhart's Life. 

VOL. I. E 



66 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 

You can't conceive how much they were delighted with 
" Weel may we a' be." I happened one evening to be in 
tolerable voice, and gave it in my best style: they were 
much struck with the uncommon wild nature (not to say 
barbarity) of the air. Many a souper it has procured me, 
and ever since the Polts have grinned at me like so many 
Cheshire cats, to use the Bart.'s phrase. Dear Walter, take 
not revenge upon me for my long delay in answering 
yours, but when you happen to have an idle half-hour let 
me know what you are to be about this spring vaca- 
tion. . . . — Your most affectionate friend, 

Adam Ferguson. 

to robert surtees. 1 

17 Dec. 1806. 

I was much obliged and interested by your long and 
curious letter. You flatter me very much by pointing out 
to my attention the feuds of 1715 and '4*5. 2 The truth is 
that the subject has often and deeply interested me from 
my earliest youth. My great-grandfather was out, as the 

1 Robert Surtees of Mainsforth, complete exposure of the hoax, see 
author of a History of Durham, Mr. Andrew Lang's Old Friends, 
an accomplished scholar, whose Appendix, pp. 197-203. 
acquaintance Scott made shortly Mr. Surtees wrote to Scott on 
after the publication of the Min- December 8th, 1806: — "It is in 
strelsy, and with whom he frequently your power to do what no historian 
corresponded on literary and anti- can, to bring us acquainted with 
quarian subjects. Their letters the very men themselves ; to place 
have already been printed in us on the scene of action, and to 
Surtees' Life ; but the foregoing perpetuate for ever the charac- 
extract is given here because it teristic traits of valour and genero- 
contains what is probably an early sity which must have distinguished 
reference to Waverley. the Highland Clans, assembled for 

2 If this suggestion was the im- the last time under their native 
mediate cause of Scott's directing chiefs. ... At this distance of 
his attention to the feuds of 1715 time, we may surely feel for the 
and 1745, it was a happy idea, and spirit and loyalty of the Clans, 
Surtees may almost be pardoned or admire Hamilton's Gladsmuir 
for the clever mystification which Ode, without entering into the 
occasioned the introduction of the depth of Jacobitism. " 

Elfin Knight, in Marmion. For a And again in 1810, when send- 



1806] TO ROBERT SURTEES 67 

phrase goes, in Dundee's wars and in 1715, and had nearly 
the honour to be hanged for his pains, had it not been for 
the interest of Duchess Anne of Buccleuch and Monmouth, 
to whom I have attempted longo intervallo to pay a debt 
of gratitude. 

But besides this, my father, although a Borderer, trans- 
acted business for many Highland lairds, and particularly 
for one old man called Stuart of Invernahyle, who had been 
out both in 1715 and '45, and whose tales were the absolute 
delight of my childhood. I believe there never was a man 
who united the ardour of a soldier and tale-teller — a man 
of ' talk ' as they call it in Gaelic — in such an excellent 
degree, and he was as fond of telling as I was of hearing. I 
became a valiant Jacobite at the age of 10 years, and ever 
since reason and reading came to my assistance I have 
never quite got rid of the impression which the gallantry 
of Prince Charles made on my imagination. 

Certainly I will not renounce the idea of doing some- 
thing to preserve these stories, and the memory of times 
and manners which, though existing as it were yesterday, 
have so strangely vanished from our eyes. Whether this 
will be best done by collecting the old tales, or by modern- 
ising them as subjects of legendary poetry, I have never 
very seriously considered, but your kind encouragement 
confirms me in the resolution that something I must do, 
and that speedily. Once more, dear sir, pray persevere 
with your kind intentions towards me, and do not let me 
lose the benefit your correspondence holds out to your 
most obliged humble servant, Walter Scott. 

ing Scott his beautiful Invocation fore on the other side you will find 

to the Minstrel (see Ed. Annual an incantation to induce you to 

Register, vol. iii. Pt. n. p. lxxxviii), write La trds piteuse et delectable 

he says, " You have never attended histoire du preux et errant Chevalier, 

to my request in prose, and there- Charles Stuart. " 



CHAPTEE III 

1807 

EDINBURGH AND ASHESTIEL 



Even now it scarcely seems a day, 
Since first I tuned this idle lay ; 
A task so often thrown aside. 
When leisure graver cares denied, 
That now, November's dreary gale, 
Whose voice inspired my opening tale, 
That same November gale once more 
Whirls the dry leaves on Yarrow shore. " 

Marmion. 



FAMILY ANNALS AND LITERARY WORK 



1807— age 36 



At work on Marmion and Dry den. 

Visits London in March— gathering 

materials for Dry den. 
Visits Hampshire in April— at Gundimore, 

W. Stewart Rose's Cottage. 
Visits Lichfield in May— Miss Seward. 
Visits Dumfriesshire in July— Lord Abei- 

corn's business. 



Visits Lanarkshire in September. 

Dry den and Marmion suspended by pres- 
sure of extra private official work, pre- 
paring for Secretaryship to Parliamen- 
tary Commission on Scotch Judicature. 

Christmas at Bothwell Castle. 



79 



CHAPTER III. 



TO MISS SEWARD. 



Edinburgh, 20 February 1807. 

I take an early opportunity to send you the promised 
specimen of my new poem, and at the same time to request 
your acceptance of a small volume of poetry written by 
one of our country shepherds, which, if you can wade 
through the Scotch, will repay you for the labour. 1 

If upon perusal you should like the poems, you would 
do me a great kindness to give the little volume that 
celebrity among your literary friends which you can so 
easily confer by your recommendation. 

The author gives a most literal and very curious 
account of his life and studies in the preface, and is upon the 
whole a very interesting person. The success of his book 
is of some consequence to him, as it may assist him in 
starting a small farm which he has taken, and where he 
will probably succeed very well, as he is not only a good 
Ballad-writer, but a most excellent shepherd. I know 
nobody that understands the diseases of sheep so well, or 
faces the tempests more hardily. In short he is a very 
deserving character, and I am deeply interested in his fate 
now that he is about to emerge from his state of servitude. 

I have at length fixed on the title of my new poem, 
which is to be christened, from the principal character, 
Marmion or a Tale of Flodden Field. There are to be 

1 The Mountain Bard, by James Hogg, had just been published at 
Edinburgh, by Scott's intervention. 

71 



72 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Feb. 

six Cantos, and an introductory Epistle to each, in the 
style of that which I send to you as a specimen. In the 
legendary part of the work " Knights, Squires, and steeds 
shall enter on the stage." I am not at all afraid of my 
patriotism being a sufferer in the course of the tale. It is 
very true that my friend Leyden has said : 

" Alas ! that Scottish maid should sing 
The combat where her lover fell, 
That Scottish Bard should wake the string 
The triumph of our foes to tell." 1 

But we may say with Francis i., " that at Flodden all was 
lost but our honour" — an exception which includes every- 
thing that is desirable for a poet. 

As to my editorial labours, for two years past I have 
been occasionally labouring on a complete edition of 
Dryden's Works, which have never been collected. I hope 
it will be out by Christmas next. The illustration of the 
poetical and historical passages has cost me much labour. 

From my research the boldest spiders fled 
And moths retreating trembled as I read. 

As for poetry it is very little labour to me; indeed 
'twere pity of my life should I spend much time on the 
light and loose sort of poetry which alone I can pretend to 
write. Were all the time I wasted upon the " Lay " put 
together, — for it was laid aside for long intervals, — I am 
sure it would not exceed six weeks. The last Canto was 
written in three forenoons, when I was lying in quarters 
with our yeomanry. I leave it with yourself to guess how 
little I can have it in my most distant imagination to 
place myself upon a level with the great Bards you have 
mentioned, the very latchets of whose shoes neither 
Southey nor I are worthy to unloose. My admiration of 
Chaucer, Spenser, and Dryden does not blind me to their 

1 "Ode on Visiting Flodden." 



1807] TO MISS SEWAED 73 

faults, for I see the coarseness of the first, the tediousness 
occasioned by the continued allegory of the second, and 
the inequalities of the last, but my dear Miss Seward, 
" in those days were giants in the land," and we are but 
dwarfs beside them. 

I am infinitely obliged by your sending me your tribute 
to the memory of the immortal Garrick. How much I 
envy those who have seen that abridgement of all that 
was pleasant in man. But we have Siddons, though less 
extended in her range, yet not surely less excellent, and 
for what we have received let us be thankful in God's 
name. . . . 

FROM WILLIAM STEWART ROSE. 1 

18C7. 

I cannot sufficiently express the sense I have of your 
partial regard in proposing to inscribe to me one of the 
books of your intended poem. 

The impression made on me by such a lasting token of 
your friendship will, I am sure, be as permanent as it is 
strong. 

Will you forgive me for having read the specimen you 
sent me to Lady Hester Stanhope ? 2 I will not tell you all 
the flattering speeches which it produced, because you 
shall hear them from her own mouth ; but it will, I am 
sure, be a gratification to you to hear that Mr. Pitt (she 
repeated some of his remarks upon the "Lay") highly 

1 W. S. Rose, son of the Right at Gundimore in Hampshire. He 
Hon. George Rose, Treasurer of had then resumed Marmion, and left 
the Navy, etc. etc., to whom Scott his host the printed sheets of the 
dedicated the first canto of Marmion. exquisite Introduction to the 1st 
Mr. Rose died in 1843, and is most Canto, which Rose refers to as 
widely known by his translation of having been shown to Lady Hester 
Ariosto's Orlando. Stanhope. On his return home 

2 Scott was in London in March, Scott was compelled to put aside 
and he remained there several weeks all literary work, and devote him- 
engaged at the British Museum on self entirely to the disentanglement 
Dryden ; thence he visited his friend of his brother Thomas's affairs. 



74 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [May 

appreciated both the talents and the merit which your 
poetry exhibits. 

This is not in order to qualify some criticisms which 
I am about to venture upon the lines which produced 
this discussion. . . . 

Having very seriously told you my opinion, which is 
perhaps little worth upon these heads, you will I trust 
believe me equally sincere in saying that I was delighted 
with the verses, which evidently flowed from the heart. 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Edinburgh, 15th May 1807. 
... I had a most stormy passage to Scotland, for the 
tempest of disputed election was raging in every town 
almost through which I passed. Post horses were, generally 
speaking, out of the question, and the public coaches, on 
the outside and in the inside of which I performed the 
greater part of my journey, were crowded with drunken 
voters whom the candidates were transporting in that 
manner through the country, and who drank brandy at 
every furlong for the good of their country. I arrived 
here on Wednesday without having been in bed for three 
nights, but without experiencing either fatigue or incon- 
venience from my vigils. 

The cry of King and Constitution was the favourite 
through every part of the country I passed. My route 
extended a good way to the westward, by Liverpool, Lich- 
field, 1 Sheffield, etc., till I joined the great north road at 

1 Though Miss Seward's descrip- robust than slender ; but lame in 

tion of Scott when he visited Lich- the same manner as Mr. Hayley, 

field has been already printed, yet and in a greater measure. Neither 

it is so good that space may well the contour of his face nor yet his 

be afforded for it here, transcribed features are elegant, his complexion 

from the original MS. : — healthy and somewhat fair, without 

Lichfield, May 10th, 1807. bloom. We find the singularity of 

. . . This proudest boast of the brown hair and eyelashes with 

Caledonian Muses is ball and rather flaxen eyebrows, and a countenance 



1807] TO LADY ABERCORN 75 

York, finding it difficult to return, as I had intended, by 
Carlisle. ... I found all my little people in great health and 
spirits, and beginning to talk a little French under their 
mother's instructions. I am very anxious that my sons in 
particular shall be masters of the modern European lan- 
guages, an accomplishment which, although much neglected 
in our common mode of education, may be of the utmost 
use to them in future life. Your Ladyship will, I hope, 
commend my early and fore-casting prudence in this 
matter when you consider that the eldest boy is only five 
years old, and the youngest cannot speak his mother tongue 
yet. 

I find myself treated with an unusual degree of respect 
in this country, from the idea which the good people are 
pleased to entertain of my favour with the ministers and 
their strongest supporters. As the only course in my 
power, I look wise, say nothing, and gain the credit of being 
in the secret, and knowing how to keep it. I need not tell 
your Ladyship that I laugh in my sleeve, and yet I daresay 
I have often looked up with profound respect to some 
person or other who had no better claim to it than being 
personally known to his betters, like myself. 
You will expect to hear something of Marmion. He 

open, ingenuous, and benevolent. wit, apposite allusion and playful 

When seriously conversing or archness, while on serious themes 

earnestly attentive, tho' his eyes it is nervous and eloquent ; the 

are rather of a lightish grey, deep accent decidedly Scotch, yet by no 

thought is on their lids ; he con- means broad. On the whole, no 

tracts his brows, and the rays of expectation is disappointed whicii 

genius gleam aslant from the orbs his poetry must excite in all who 

beneath them. An upper lip too feel the powers and th-j graces 

long prevents his mouth from being of Aonian inspiration. Not less 

decidedly handsome, but the sweet- astonishing than was Johnson's 

est emanations of temper and of memory is that of Mr. Scott ; like 

heart play about it when he talks Johnson's also, his recitation is 

cheerfully or smiles, and in company too monotonous and violent to do 

he is much oftener gay than con- justice either to his own writings 

templative. His conversation an or those of others. — Letter to Cary. 
overflowing fountain of brilliant 



76 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Aug. 

begs his respectful compliments to the Marchioness, and 
will have the honour of kissing her hand at Christmas, 
having adjourned his introduction to public life till that 
period. The whirlpool of politics run such risque of ab- 
sorbing all the public interest, and' my own labours have 
been so effectually interrupted by the gaieties of your 
metropolis, that this arrangement will be most convenient 
for both parties. 

I send Queen Auragua 1 under the Marquis's cover, and 
will be happy to hear how your Ladyship likes it in 
Manuscript; and still more so, to know that you are 
tolerably well, and taking care of your health, to which 
London air and London hours are I fear not very favour- 
able. 

TO MISS SEWARD. 

ASHESTIEL, BY SELKIRK, 

August 11, 1807. 

I very little anticipated upon quitting your hospitable 
mansion, that my first letter should have begun with an 
apology for delaying to express the pleasure I had received 
from a personal acquaintance which I value so highly. But 
it has pleased God since that period to visit me with 
distress of a kind which, least of all, I am able to bear. 

My younger brother's affairs fell very suddenly into total 
and irretrievable disorder, at a time too when his wife was 
confined after the birth of a son, and under a variety of 
other circumstances tending to aggravate a calamity in 
itself sufficiently severe. He had been for many years 
manager of the estates of the Marquis of Abercorn, and I 
was security to his employer for the regular payment of 
his rents. The consequence of my brother's failure was, 
that the whole affairs of these extensive estates were 
thrown upon my hands in a state of unutterable confusion, 
so that to save myself from ruin I was obliged to lend my 

1 Southey's Poem on Queen Orraca. 



1807] TO MISS SEWARD 77 

constant and unremitting attention to their re-establish- 
ment. In the course of this unfortunate business, I was 
so absolutely worried to death that I had neither head nor 
heart to think of anything else. Fortunately, from Lord 
Abercorn's friendship and liberality of sentiment on the 
one hand, and unceasing attention on the other, I have 
put things into such a train as to avoid a personal loss, 
which would not only have deprived me of the power of 
assisting my brother's family, but very much cramped me 
in maintaining my own, or deprived me at least of that 
independence which in my opinion is essential to happiness. 
Thank God everything has turned out better than I 
ventured to hope, and I have found myself at liberty to 
escape to the banks of my dear Tweed without any ap- 
prehension of being obliged to quit them. I have also 
hopes, by some kind and powerful friends, to establish my 
brother in a line which will suit him better than that in 
which he has met with his misfortune. 

If this can be accomplished, his youth and talents, 
which are very considerable, may easily repair to himself and 
his family the disaster which his ill-timed speculations 
have occasioned. Meantime, I have found the proof of an 
old Scottish proverb that "if a thing is kept for seven 
years, some use will be found for it." After so many years 
spent at the Bar and in literary pursuits, I never thought 
to have been so much obliged to an early part of my 
education, in which I was trained to what you would call 
Attorney's business, which my father thought I ought to 
understand, although my practice was to be in the higher 
and theoretical branch of the law. This has done me 
yeoman's service in the hour of necessity, but most 
devoutly do I pray I may have no further occasion to 
plague myself with rent rolls, annuity tables, purchase and 
redemption of leases, and all the endless train of com- 
plicated chicanery by understanding which one part of 



78 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Sept. 

mankind enable themselves to live at the expense of the 
sons of fortune. 

In the midst of all this bustle, it is scarcely necessary 
to say that my harp has been hung on the willows ; my 
grand poem called Marmion has been entirely stopped, 
even when half finished, and Dryden has crept on very 
slowly. All this delay must now be compensated when 
leisure and renovated spirits enable me to resume my 
literary labours. Since I came here I have had a visit from 
Miss Smith of Covent Garden Theatre, an actress of the 
Tragic Muse, for whom I have an especial regard as a very 
good and pleasing girl with high talents for her profession, 
in which she is now second to Mrs. Siddons alone. As she 
goes by the Western Road, I would have ventured to give 
her a few lines of introduction to you had her time been 
such as to permit her to wait upon you. She is quite 
received everywhere, and was introduced to us by the 
Buccleuch ladies. 

TO MISS SMITH. 1 

Ashestiel, 9th September 1807. 

... I assure you we felt a little pang of remorse when 
we considered that the day you so kindly spent at our 
farm, had been the means of reducing you to the necessity 
of such violent exertions to be in due time at Margate. 
Seriously, you must allow no consideration to do so in 
future ; the voice (especially so flexible a voice as yours) 
has a delicacy equal to its other powers, and a bad cold 
might deprive it for a long time, if not for ever, of that 
command of tone which it now possesses. So pray as you 
value my regard, take care of damp dressing-rooms, and 
of night journeys. I am not ignorant that your profession 

1 Miss Sarah Smith, an accom- married in 1814 George Bartley, 
plished tragic actress, engaged at and died in 1850. 
this time at Covent Garden. She 



1807] TO MISS SMITH 79 

and the eminence you have deservedly gained in it, expose 
you to sensations still more painful than those of colds 
and rheumatisms, and that the heartache which is pro- 
duced by lacerated feelings is more acute than the severest 
bodily pain. But you must look, my dear young friend, 
upon the livelier side of the picture, and consider the 
pleasures of your profession, when its highest rank is 
attained by one who is in every respect deserving of the 
elevation it gives her. . . . 

The actor gives life to the poet, and embodies those 
passions which the author can but sketch ; and the ardour 
with which a favourite part is studied and mastered 
seldom fails in the keenest degree to reward a performer 
who has given himself the pains to understand it. Every 
line of life has its advantages, and usually is balanced with 
drawbacks of a nature corresponding to them. The per- 
former whose enjoyment lies in exquisitely feeling and 
expressing the beauties of poetry, is by the acuteness of 
feeling which he must cultivate, rendered doubly sensible 
to mental distress ; and as he lives by the applause of the 
public, he is liable to be wounded by all the tales of 
calumny and malice to which the public is always too 
willing to lend an ear. But your powers, with the good 
temper and propriety to which they are united, may 
safely defy all these inconveniences, and if you cannot avoid 
feeling them for a time, you have the pleasing consciousness 
that they arise only from a sense of your excellence. . . . 
Believe me yours affectionately, Walter Scott. 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 1 

Ashestiel, 10 Sept. 1807. 
I have deferred writing from day to day, my dear Lady 

1 Scott appears to have hinted pleasant business in which he had 
to Lady Abercorn that he feared been engaged during the summer 
her silence was caused by the un- months, but her reply, from which 



80 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Sept. 

Abercorn, until I should be able to make good my promise 
of sending you the first two cantos of Marmion. . . . 

I am sure it will give your kindness pleasure to hear 
that the very unpleasant affair which distressed me so 
much when I met your Ladyship at Longtown is taking a 
turn much more favourable than I had ventured to augur 
at that time. Lord Abercorn will, I think, sustain no 
loss whatever, my own will be trifling, and something 
will even be saved out of the wreck of my brother's 
fortune. 

. . . Thus it is, my dear Lady, in human life : the bad 
is not always so very bad, and the good is not always so 
very good as we at first fear or expect, and in this twilight 
sort of state, in which good and bad fortune are so 
strangely chequered, we find something to make mis- 
fortune tolerable, and something to embitter prosperity 
itself. 

Apropos of prosperity, our glens have been honoured 
with a visit from the Duke and Duchess of Bedford ; they 
made some stay at a shooting hut of Lord Somerville's 
(how he contrived to pack them I cannot imagine), and 
looked around them at the Antiquities and Agriculture of 
Teviotdale. I renewed my former acquaintance with her 
Grace, which commenced when she was the Duchess's 
Georgie, 1 and they breakfasted at our farm on their road to 

the following extract is made, please God. We leave this on the 

shewed him that he was mistaken: — 27th, and travel with our own horses 

' ' I am sure you have not for one by Scotland, so we shall be a great 

moment imagined my silence pro- while on the road. . . . How 

eeeded from any change in those happy I should be if we could 

sentiments which I always have tempt you to cross the sea and come 

felt and always must feel for you — to us — indeed it would be a most 

but as I have no good excuse to friendly visit tho' one I fear there 

give for my silence I will trust is little chance of." 
to you for forgiveness . . . You x Second wife of John, Duke of 

must prove you are not angry by Bedford, daughter of the 4th Duke 

writing me long letters to Ireland, of Gordon and the celebrated 

where we intend to be very soon, Duchess Jane. 



1807] TO LADY ABERCOKN 81 

Hamilton. ... I have seldom seen any person so happy 
at revisiting her native country. She was quite ready, 
with the damsel in the old song, 

" To throw off her gallant shoes 
Made of the Spanish leather, 
And to put on the Highland brogues 
To skip among the heather." 

Marmion has been sadly interrupted, but is now making 
some progress. I was under the necessity of going to 
Edinburgh for a few days, and as Mrs. Scott was with me, 
we returned by Bothwell Castle, both to visit Lady Douglas 
and that my wife might see the Falls of Clyde. But the 
pleasure of this excursion had like to have cost us dear. 
For on Sunday, as we were travelling through a very wild 
country between the towns of Lanark and Peebles, the 
weather, which had been rainy for several days, became a 
perfect hurricane. Many bridges were broke down, others 
were left standing with the water flowing round both 
ends of them, so that they seemed in the middle of a lake ; 
at other places the road was entirely under water. Going 
forward and stopping seemed to be almost alike impossible. 
However, by walking, wading, and riding before the 
carriage when we came to those perilous spots where my 
coachman could not see the road, we did at length, to the 
astonishment of all beholders, reach the town of Peebles, 
which was half under water. Next day, all the roads 
being impassable for a carriage, we had to walk home, 
being about eight miles intersected by brooks, and had 
on our arrival the displeasure to find a good part of my 
crop had been carried off by the river, which very nearly 
made free with the persons of some people who had made 
themselves busy in saving it. 

But as I remember formerly terrifying your Ladyship 
with the description of a Scottish tornado, I will not 
enlarge upon this tempest, lest I should make you afraid 

VOL. i. f 



82 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

of a country which I have so many reasons to wish you to 
love. I learned by a letter from Lord Abercorn that you 
had reached in safety " the green isle of the ocean/' whose 
verdure and riches have, I daresay, long since obliterated 
the recollection of the dusky heaths and mountains which 
you traversed in journeying to Portpatrick. . . . 

TO THE SAME. 

Ashestiel, Sept. 19, 1807. 
... I AM going on with horse and foot, that is, prose and 
verse alternately. Marmion is now well advanced. Pray 
observe that in the character of Fox two lines are omitted ; 
they should follow that which says, 

" Lest it should drop o'er Fox's tomb." 

They run thus — 

" For talents mourn untimely lost, 
When best employed and wanted most, 
Mourn genius gone," etc. 

Pray, Lady Abercorn, add these lines with a pen, 
They are an admirable improvement suggested by the 
M[arquis] when I was at the Priory. The sheet was 
thrown off before the correction reached the printer, 
but the leaf is to be cancelled and printed anew before 
publication. 

I see my neighbour Lord Somerville's carriage on the 
opposite side of the Tweed. I suppose he is coming to 
spend the day with us, so conclude in haste. . . . — Your 
truly grateful and deeply obliged Walter Scott. 

TO MISS SEWARD. 

23 Nov. 1807. 

... As for the affair of Copenhagen, 1 I know you will 
ascribe to my ancient freebooting Border prejudices a 

1 The bombardment of Copenhagen and capture of the Danish Fleet 
in September. 



1807] TO MISS SEWARD 83 

latitude of morality which I think State necessity must 
justify, because in the code of nations as in that of social 
order, the law of self-preservation must supersede all 
others. Indeed, my patriotism is so much stronger than 
my general philanthropy, that I should hear with much 
more composure of a general conflagration at Constan- 
tinople, than of a hut being on fire at Lichfield ; and as 
for the morality of an action in which the welfare of the 
country is deeply concerned, I suspect I feel much like 
the Laird of Kerr's butler. Keir had been engaged in the 
affair of 1715 and was tried for high treason; the butler, 
whose evidence was essential to conviction, chose to forget 
all that was unfavourable to his master, who was acquitted, 
of course. As they returned home Keir could not help 
making some observations upon the violent fit of oblivion 
with which John had been visited, but that trusty domestic 
answered with infinite composure, that he chose rather to 
trust his own soul in the Lord's hands than his Honour's 
life in the hands of the Whigs. 

But if I write any longer in this way you will lock up 
your Plate, as old Lady Tarras 1 threatened to secure her 
cows when I should visit her, suspecting that my dis- 
tinctions between rneum and twum were hardly more 
accurate than those of Johnie Armstrong of Gilnockie. 

I am very glad indeed that you have condescended to 
take upon you the task of reviewing my poor Shepherd. 2 
This dismal day of wind and snow is probably finding him 
a very different occupation from writing verses. A sailor 
when he hears the wind whistle always thinks of a sea 

1 This letter is printed from a gard. Helen Hepburn, the only- 
transcript, and not from the original Lady Tarras, died when Scott was 
by Sir Walter. If he wrote Tarras, a child, 
it may have been a playful allusion 

to his old friend and early patroness 2 The Mountain Bard by Hogg 

Lady Diana Scott, of whom he often was reviewed by Miss Seward in 

speaks in terms of the utmost re- the Critical Review in 1807. 



84 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

tempest, and such a night as last always sends my 
thoughts to the desert hills, where my poor countrymen 
must be all night driving the sheep with their faces to the 
wind, to prevent their lying down and being smothered. 
In this service they very often lose their lives. 

I do not at all like the task of reviewing, and have seldom 
myself undertaken it; in Poetry never, because I am sensible 
there is a greater difference of tastes in that department 
than in any other, and that there is much excellent Poetry 
which I am not now-a-days able to read without falling 
asleep, and which would nevertheless have given me great 
pleasure at an earlier period of my life. Now I think 
there is something hard in blaming the poor cook for the 
fault of our own palate or deficiency of appetite. There 
is a clever little Pamphlet come out against Jeffrey by 
Mr Coplestone 1 of Oxford! I gave it to the Critic this 
morning, and he is so much delighted with it that he says 
he means to request the favour of the Author's contribu- 
tions to his Review. To be sure he is the most complete 
poco cwrante that I ever knew. ... I have resumed my 
poem in order to accomplish my engagement with the 
Booksellers, which has been terribly retarded. ... I am 
a pretty hard worker when once I set about it, and, in fact, 
my literary life resembles the natural life of a savage, 
absolute indolence interchanged with hard work. This is 
the interval of labour, to which the gloomy weather and 
whistling winds are very favourable. . . . My reason for 
transporting Marmion from Lichfield was to make good the 
minstrel prophecy of Constance's song. Why I should ever 
have taken him there I cannot very well say. Attachment 
to the place, its locality with respect to Tamworth, the 
ancient seat of the Marmions, partly perhaps the whim of 
taking a slap at Lord Brooke en passant, joined in 

1 "Hints to young Reviewers" by Edward Coplestone, afterwards 
Bishop of Llandaff. 



1807] TO MISS SEWARD 85 

suggesting the idea which I had not time to bring out or 
finish. ... I am quite glad you have seen Southey. 
Delighted with him you must be, yet in conversation (great 
as he is) he is inferior to Wordsworth, perhaps because he 
is a deeper and more elaborate scholar. Southey rarely 
allows you any of those reposes of conversation when you 
are at liberty to speak, as the phrase is, " whatever comes 
uppermost." But in return, if an idle fellow like me is 
sometimes a little gene, he is at least informed, and may 
be the wiser or the better from all he hears. What I 
admire in both is an upright undeviating morality con- 
necting itself with all they think and say and write. . . . 

FROM LADY LOUISA STUART. 1 

Bothwell Castle, Wednesday. 

I will write to Mr. Morritt, who told me the story and 
is a friend of Lord Mulcaster's, for a particular detail. In 
the meantime what I can remember is this. Mulcaster 
Castle lies beyond Wast Water, the wildest and most 
remote lake in Cumberland. It commands a fine view of 
the sea, and is in a scene of savage grandeur. 

The Penningtons, one of the oldest families in the 
County, have possessed it for many centuries ; I think — 
but am not sure — I was told they had it before the 
Conquest. Colonel Pennington, the present owner, was 
made an Irish Peer by the title of Lord Mulcaster several 
years ago. Here Henry vi. found an asylum when flying 
from the Yorkists, and remained some months inhabiting 
a part of the Castle still known by the name of " the King's 

1 Lady Louisa Stuart, to whom at Bothwell, the seat of Archibald 
Scott wrote some of his best letters, Lord Douglas, whose wife, Lady- 
was the youngest daughter of John, Frances Scott, daughter of Henry 
4th Earl of Bute. Her own letters Duke of Buccleuch, was also one of 
show that she had much of the Scott's dearest friends, 
genius of her grandmother, Lady Lady Louisa Stuart survived all 
Mary Wortley Montagu. Scott her early friends, dying in 1851 at 
first met her at Dalkeith, and then the age of 94. 



86 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

Apartment." When going away he lamented that his 
poverty allowed of no suitable gift to his kind host, the 
Pennington of that day, but said he would leave them the 
glass out of which he commonly drank; then formally 
blessed it, and prayed that while that glass remained un- 
broken, the house of Mulcaster might never want a male 
heir. It has ever since been called the " Luck of Mulcaster." 
It is a goblet of thick Venice glass. 1 

The neighbouring peasantry have such a veneration for 
it, that on some day of feasting when they assembled 
at the Castle, and Lord Mulcaster brought it out to show 
it them, many fell upon their knees. This is all I can 
recollect at present, but perhaps Mr. Morritt may give me 
some more particulars. 

We are very happy that you give us some hopes of 
seeing you, in spite of Dry den and Marmion, neither of 
which we wish delayed, especially the latter. — I am, dear 
sir, your most obedient L. Stuart. 

P.S. — I am half afraid I have blundered in the name, 
for the Red Book calls him Mulcaster with an n, and he is 
now member for Westmoreland, which looks as if he 
belonged to that County. The cup, of which I told you 
the history, is a shallow drinking glass, not unlike the 
ancient Patera in shape, and ornamented with gilding 
round the edge. I don't know the name of the knight of 
Pennington who entertained Henry vi. 2 

TO LADY LOUISA STUART. 

I should not have laboured so long under the charge 
of ingratitude, much worse than that of witchcraft (which 
a ghost ballad writer is naturally subjected to), if I had 

1 Lord Muncaster writes, June carried it at one baptism, and it is 

1892 : — now in my strong-room. ..." 

"... This cup is still unbroken. 2 Sir John de Pennington was 

I have always heard that we have King Henry's host, 
been baptized out of it. I have 



1807] TO LADY LOUISA STUART 87 

not hoped to have a personal opportunity of paying my 
acknowledgments for Lady Louisa's kindness. I take 
great care of your correspondent's curious letter; as I 
shall be within twelve miles of Bothwell on the 30th, if 
Lady Douglas spends the Christmas there, I will have the 
honour to deliver it upon that day. My errand at Glasgow 
is to see the Lord Advocate 1 installed as Lord Rector in the 
University ; but if the family are to be at Bothwell I will 
leave him when invested with his dignity. 

I am more and more delighted with the tale of King 
Henry, his cup, and his blessing, but I will not willingly 
allow that our good Scotch King meant to betray him. 
You remember the lines of Chapelain 2 on the succour he 
received in Scotland, "ever kind to banished princes, though 
so rude a country." I forget the French words but that 
I think is the meaning, which recurred strongly to my 
mind when I saw Monsieur come to our old Abbey. 3 I 
am going to discontinue all my dangerous intentions of 
giving poetic celebrity to Lord Muncaster's habitation 
(since you were pleased to think I can do so), for I think 
the story is far too good to be comprised in a stanza 
and a note, which is all I can afford in Marmion. Besides, 
the making it public would be giving the signal to build 
some vile milk-and-waterish legendary tale upon so 
beautiful a subject, which would grieve me as deeply as it 
would Lord M. to see a trim, neat, whitewashed, Gothic 
castle, almost as large as one of his ancestors' goose pyes, 
arise upon the most romantic knoll in the environs of 
Pennington, with its usual graces of slits and pigeon holes 
for loop holes and embrasures, petticoat flounces for 

1 Lord Advocate Colquhoun's are quoted by Scott in Edinburgh 
installation took place on Decern- Revieiv, vol. iii. p. 450, or Miscel- 
her 29, 1807. laneous Works, xvii. pp. 76-7. — 

2 Should this not read Chastelain Godwin's Chaucer. 

or Molinet, whose lines on Scotland 3 Count d'Artois, — afterwards 
De tous siecles le mendre Charles x. — at Holy rood. 

Et le plus tollerant— 



88 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 1807 

parapets, battled and embattled pepper boxes for turrets, 
and old perspective glasses for watch towers. I therefore 
intend to lay by the tradition in lavender till some 
occasion when I can give it its full interest, or at least do 
my best to give it as much as I can. I am just now very 
busy dressing your cousin James iv. in his court suit ; his 
clothes are all cut, sew'd and ready to put on, so I must 
bid your Ladyship farewell in order to attend his royal 
levee. — I am ever with great respect your Ladyship's most 
respectful and obliged humble servant, W. S. 

FROM LADY LOUISA STUART. 

Bothwell Castle, 
Thursday, Dec. 1807. 

Lady Douglas desires me to say that Lord D. and she 
will be most happy to see you when you have rectified the 
Lord Advocate. 

They are quite stationed here, and have no thought 
of moving from home, nor I of leaving them, for some 
weeks to come. 

I am almost sorry that the Knight of Muncaster is 
not to appear at Flodden with the Luck thereof upon his 
shield, tho' very glad that he has a chance of a whole 
poem to his own share. As for our Glide faith, I am 
afraid in spite of Chapelain it has not always been so 
notorious as you would have it. Remember Charles the 
First, sold to the Parliament, and " the brave Percie " given 
up by Morton notwithstanding the warnings of the " Witch 
Ladie." x I have time for no more, some company being 
just going away, whom I must join the family in civilizing, 
as a very fine-spoken lady once expressed it. — Ever, Dear 
Sir, your most obedient, L. Stuart. 

1 See Ballad Northumberland Be- her gold finger ring shewed the page 

trayed, in " Percy's Reliques," for of the fugitive Earl his master's foes 

an account of the Witch Lady, who waiting for him at Berwick " fifty 

in Lochleven through the weme of miles away." 



CHAPTEE IV 

1808 
EDINBURGH AND ASHESTIEL 



Then would he sing achievements high, 
And circumstance of Chivalry, 

Till the rapt traveller would stay- 
Forgetful of the closing day ; 

And noble youths the strain to hear 
Forsook the hunting of the deer ; 

And Yarrow as he rolled along 
Bore burden to the Minstrel's song. 

Lay of the Last Minstrel. 



FAMILY ANNALS AND LITEEAEY WORK 



1808— age 37 



Marmion published Feby. 1808 in 4to, by- 
Constable, Edinburgh. 

Dry den's Works in 18 vols. 8vo, April, pub- 
lished by Miller, London. 

Joanna Baillie visits Scott in Edinburgh 
and at Ashestiel. 

Scott visits Loch Katrine in June with 
Mrs. Scott and Miss Lydia White. 

Morritt visits Scott in June. 

Heber and Murray at Ashestiel in October 
(Foundation of the Quarterly Review.) 



Strutt's Queenhoo Hall, 4 vols. 12mo, puD- 

lished by Murray, London. 
Carleton's Memoirs, 8vo, published by 

Constable. 
Cary's Memoir, 8vo, published by Con- 
stable, Edinburgh. 
Somers' Tracts commenced, 13 vols. 4to, 

completed in 1812, and published by 

Miller, London. 
Rupture with Constable and partnership 

with John Ballantyne as a Publisher, 

December, 



CHAPTER IV. 



TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Edinburgh, 22d January 1808. 

Dear Lady Marchioness, — I have at length got a copy 
of Burns's Love Letters to Glarinda, the little publication 
which I mentioned to your Ladyship at Dumfries. It is 
rather too heavy for an ordinary frank. 1 I have therefore 
addressed it under cover to Lord Castlereagh, who will I 
presume take care of it for your Ladyship. I mentioned the 
circumstances which attended this publication, but as they 
are rather curious, I venture to remind you that Glarinda 
was in the work-day world a Mrs. Meiklehose (in English 
Mrs. Great-stockings). Her husband was in the West 
Indies when she became acquainted with Burns in the 
dawn of his celebrity. The progress and extent of their 

1 Franking was a privilege which, that his correspondence with refer- 
till the introduction of the Penny ence to his various publications, 
Postage in 1840, the members of and to engineering matters on 
both Houses of Parliament, Govern- which he was consulted, was carried 
ment officials, and other public on principally by official franks, 
functionaries enjoyed, of sending The number of franked missives 
and receiving daily a certain num- was about seven millions yearly, 
ber of letters post free, their sigua- and as official franks carried any 
ture or address on a letter being weight, bundles of letters for the 
sufficient to exempt it from postage. same neighbourhood were often 
The postal charges were then so enclosed in them ; and it was cal- 
high that they were evaded on all culated that in 1838 a single mail- 
hands, and the privilege of frank- coach out of the two dozen leaving 
ing was much abused in favour of London each night could have 
private friends, literary men, and carried all the chargeable letters. 
even mercantile houses. E.g. Dr. The privilege was abolished in 
Lardner stated before a Committee 1840. 

91 



92 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Jan. 

acquaintance may perhaps be guessed from the letters, 
which form the most extraordinary mixture of sense and 
nonsense, and of love human and divine, that was ever 
exposed to the eye of the world, not excepting the cele- 
brated familiar epistles of Mr. Robert Ferguson to Lady 
Elgin. As Mrs. Meiklehose advanced in years her vanity 
became rather too strong for her discretion, and confiding 
in the charity of her confidants, and in her own character 
as a sort of devote, she thought fit to show this correspond- 
ence to particular friends, and at length to a faithless 
young divine, who sat up all night to make copies, put 
himself into the Glasgow mail-coach with peep of day, 
and sold all the amatory effusions of Sylvander and 
Clarinda to a Glasgow bookseller for the moderate sum of 
ten guineas. To the great horror of poor Clarinda, and 
the absolute confusion of all the godly in Edinburgh, forth 
came a sixpenny pamphlet containing all these precious 
productions. The Heroine of the piece being respectably 
connected, the book was suppressed, partly by threatening 
and partly by bribing the bookseller, and now, although 
they have put a Belfast title upon the work, 1 it is very 
hard to procure a copy, as your Ladyship may easily 
believe since it is so long since I could find you a copy. 
I shall grieve if this miscarries, because it might be diffi- 
cult to replace it; but I hope it will be more fortunate 
than the sheets sent to you when in Ireland. But as L d C. 
will receive the parcel at the same time you have this 
note, there can be no chance of a second mishap of the 
kind. 

I am asking myself if you are at the Priory or in St. 
James's Square. In one or other place I think it not 
unlikely that you may see the Minstrel in the course of a 

1 Bibliographies of Burns give A complete edition, with memoir 
1802 as the date of the Glasgow of Clarinda, was published in Edin- 
edition and 1806 for that of Belfast. burgh in 1843 



1808] TO LADY ABERCOEN 93 

few weeks, as Lord Advocate seems disposed to insist that 
I shall take a corner of his post-chaise to London, which 
removes a certain weighty objection to the journey. I 
have finished Marmion, and your Ladyship will do me the 
honour, I hope, to accept a copy very soon. In the sixth 
and last Canto I have succeeded better than I had 
ventured to hope, for I had a battle to fight, and I dread 
hard blows almost as much in poetry as in common life. 
— I am ever, with great respect and attachment, your 
Ladyship's most obedient, very faithful W. S. 



TO THE SAME. 

5th February 1808. 

... A circumstance has just happened within the 
common order of things which I believe will enable his 
Lordship [Lord Melville] to carry his good wishes in some 
degree into effect. We Clerks of Session were Clerks of 
the Scottish Parliament, and as such our predecessors 
always claimed a right that the Secretary or Clerk to any 
Commission of Parliament which might sit in Scotland 
should be named out of their number. 1 It is probably not 
unknown to your Ladyship that Lord Eldon has brought 
in a Bill for making great alterations in our forms of juris- 
prudence, and that a Commission consisting of all our high 
Law Officers and several of those of England are to be 
named to carry this into effect. This Commission must 
have a Secretary well acquainted with our law and law 
forms, and my brethren at the Clerks' table, without solici- 
tation or the slightest hint on my part, have to my great 
surprise made an application to Lord Melville stating their 
claim to have this officer named out of their number, and 

1 This letter refers to the Scottish mission gave in its Report early 
Judicature Commission. Scott was in 1810. 
appointed Secretary, and the Com- 



94 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Feb. 

recommending unanimously that I should be the person 
so appointed. , . . The Chancellor will receive a Memorial 
on the subject. 

I am glad Lord Claud 1 is gone to the Brazils; he. will 
see a most interesting and curious experiment 2 in politics 
— the transplantation of a whole royal family to a foreign 
colony ; and we will have a chance of hearing some dis- 
tinct account of the success of this most extraordinary 
migration. If we lived in any other age, what should we 
have said, written, and thought of the emigration of the 
House of Braganza ? but we are turned as callous to won- 
ders as Macbeth to horrors. This Commission affair (if it 
succeeds) will bring me to town very soon indeed. Mean- 
while I am, with great regard and a deep sense of your 
kindness, your very grateful and obliged W. S. 



TO CHARLES CARPENTER. 

Edinburgh, Feby. 8th, 1808. 
My dear brother, — Referring you to a fuller letter, 
which I have written along with a copy of a new book 3 
which I hope Mrs. Carpenter will accept as kindly as she 
did my last, I send this by a young cousin just setting sail 
as a Cadet for Madras. He is a brother of that Russell 
whom I formerly recommended to you (but I think you 
never met), and is a very good boy ; if it fall in your way 
to shew him any kindness or attention I am sure you will 

1 Lord Claud Hamilton, son of session they called it a ' Kingdom,' 
the Marquis of Abercorn; died in until 1822, when it was styled 'an 
1808. Empire,' and this title remained 

until 1889-90, when by a revolution 

2 The results of this "experi- the amiable and accomplished Pedro 
ment " after 80 years' trial may be n. was dethroned, and a republic 
briefly told : — When the Royal established under the name of The 
Family of Portugal emigrated to United States of Brazil. 

their Great South American pos- 3 Marmion. 



1808] TO 0. CARPENTEK 95 

do so; his mother was my Aunt, 1 and we have always 
been good friends. 

I am truly happy that Mrs. Carpenter's health has not 
compelled that separation which your last letter threatened. 
I hope and trust she will be able to remain with you till 
circumstances enable you to leave India for good. Believe 
me, I often think of you and all your kindness to Charlotte. 
It will give you pleasure to learn that we are going on very 
well. My last step was to become one of the Clerks of 
Session ; in doing so I renounced my practice at the Bar, 
and what is worse, as I entered by the resignation of an 
old and worthy predecessor, he retains his salary during 
his life. This bargain was made when I saw the adminis- 
tration going to pieces after poor Pitt's death, and knew 
how little I had to expect from those who came into power 
after that calamitous event. 

To be sure I could not expect the change of Ministry 
which took place immediately afterwards, nor though I 
arrived in London the very day it happened 2 could I easily 
believe my eyes and ears. As I had (contrary to many 
who held the same political opinions in sunshine) held fast 
my integrity during the Foxites' interval of power, I found 
myself of course very well with the present administration. 
The present President of the Board of Control in particular 
is my early and intimate friend since we carried our satchels 
together to the High School of Edinburgh. Think, my dear 
Carpenter, if this can be of any use to you. I am sure 
Kobt. Dundas would like to serve my brother. I am also 
very well acquainted with your present Governor-General 
Lord Minto, though I believe he was angry with me for 
not ratting (as the phrase is) with others, after Pitt's 



1 Mrs. Russell of Ashestiel. succeeded by the Duke of Portland's 

2 The administration under Lord which included Scott's friends Can- 
Grenville lasted from February ning and Dundas. 

1806 to March 1807, when it was 



96 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Feb. 

death. Yet I think I have some influence with him ; at 
least I am sure I deserve it, for when he set his son in 
opposition to the Duke of Buccleuch, my chieftain and 
friend, in Roxburgh, I could have done him more harm 
than I did. If you see him and choose to mention our 
close friendship and connections, I am sure you will not 
be the worse received. There is just now proposed a high 
Commission of Parliament for the reformation of some 
points of our Scotch law, and I have been pointed out by 
my friends to be Secretary to it — a post of considerable 
difficulty as well as distinction, but which if well discharged 
will pave the way to good appointments. 

The public has been also very favourable to me, so that 
I have profited both in pecuniary respects and in general 
esteem by the literary reputation I have acquired. All 
this good fortune has not been without some alloy. Adieu, 
dear Carpenter; think if the little sunshine I have ever 
can be of use to you, though not essentially, yet in any 
trifling degree. I am sure we have always shared in yours. 
My little infantry, now four (two of each kind), are all well ; 
your godson Charles a cherry-cheeked animal of two years 
old. — Believe me ever yours affectionately, 

Walter Scott. 

to southey. 

26th February 1808. 

... I have requested John Murray to send a copy of 
my new poem Marmion, a goodly volume in point of size, 
but I had not time to write the poem shorter. 

Looking over Madoc the other day I found I had com- 
mitted a piracy, unconsciously, upon an idea of yours. In a 
description of a distant view of a battle I have mentioned 

the 

" Plumed crests of chieftains brave 
Floating like foam upon the wave," 



1808] TO SOUTHEY 97 

which, although my mind was upon Henry iv.'s white 
plume, is exactly similar to that of Madoc floating like 
foam on the wave tempest. If my powers were equal to 
my sense of honesty, as I would to Heaven they were, I 
would offer you the fourfold requital of the Levitical law, 
but that would be no easy matter. I have been very much 
interested lately with the Kemains of H. K. White, 1 which 
however left a very melancholy impression on my mind. 
Was there no patron for such a man but Simeon and 
Wilberforce, who with the best intentions in the world 
seem to have encouraged his killing himself by religious 
enthusiasm ? I am afraid that sort of people do not 
recollect that enthusiasm like other potent draughts 
should be tempered to the strength of the patient. A 
dram which hardly warms the veins of a rough-nerved 
Scotchman will drive to frenzy a more sensitive system. 
1 wish Simeon and Levi would confine their operations to 
hard-headed Cantabs, and make no excursions to Notting- 
ham for crimping young poets. 

I have some very curious letters from a spy, sent into 
Scotland at the time of the great Northern Rebellion, in 
which there is a good deal mention made of the Nortons. 
I have written to Wordsworth to offer him copies or ex- 
tracts, but adding that I suppose his " siege is finished," as 
Vertot said when he received some original materials from 
Malta. You make me very curious to see his poem; 2 he 
is a great master of the passions. 

I have some hopes we may meet in London. God speed 
your magnum opus; 5 I venture to prophesy it will be 
generally interesting. It will give me great pleasure to 
learn that my preux Chevalier ' Marmion ' has afforded you 

1 Lately edited by Southey, who 2 Wordsworth's Poem, The White 

thought the young poet, in point of Doe of Rylstone ; not published, 

genius, quite equal to Chatterton, however, until 1815. 

and a far greater loss to the world. 3 The History of Portugal. — Ante, 

— Selections, i. p. 411. n. p. 39. 

VOL. I. G 



98 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

any pleasure. He is popular here, but we are you know 
national in our taste, so I wait my doom from London, 
and shall abide it sans peur et sans reproche, taking that 
phrase a little differently than as it applies to Bayard. — 
Believe me with great regard, dear Southey, yours truly, 

Walter Scott. 



TO LADY LOUISA STUART. 

Edinr., Zd March 1808. 

... I have thought on your reading about the death 

of Constance, and with all the respect which (sans phrase) 

I entertain for everything you honour me with, I have not 

made up my mind to the alteration, and here are my 

reasons. Clare has no wish to embitter Marmion's last 

moments, and is only induced to mention the death of 

Constance because she observes that the wounded man's 

anxiety for her deliverance prevents his attending to his 

own spiritual affairs. It seems natural, however, that 

knowing by the Abbess, or however you please, the share 

which Marmion had in the fate of Constance, she should 

pronounce the line assigned to her in such a manner as 

perfectly conveyed to his conscience the whole truth, 

although her gentleness avoided conveying it in direct 

terms. We are to consider too that Marmion had from 

various workings of his own mind been led to suspect the 

fate of Constance, so that the train being ready laid the 

slightest hint of her fate communicated the whole tale ot 

terror to his conviction. Were I to read the passage, I 

would hesitate a little like one endeavouring to seek a soft 

mode of conveying painful intelligence — 

" In vain for Constance is your zeal, 
She died at Holy Isle." 

Perhaps after all this is too fine spun, and requires more 
from my gentle readers to fill up my sketch than I am 



1808] TO LADY LOUISA STUART 99 

entitled to exact. But I would rather put in an ex- 
planatory couplet describing Clare's manner of speaking 
the words, than make her communication more full and 
specific. . . . 

We have Miss Baillie here as a visitor at present. I 
hope she will make some little stay in Edinburgh. I have 
been much distressed by the late bad accounts of dear 
little Lord Scott's health. 1 God grant he may recover. 
Out of my own family there is no loss I would so 
deeply deprecate. 



TO MISS SMITH. 

Edinr., Uh March 1808. 

. . . We have Mrs. Siddons here, I believe to take her 
farewell 2 of the Edinburgh audience. I observe you have 
been performing along with her in town, and was most 
happy to hear (for I did not fail to inquire,) that you 
sustained the comparison as triumphantly as your warmest 
friends could wish. If London had been within 100 miles, 
I would certainly have come to see you both on the same 
stage. We have Miss Baillie here at present, who is 
certainly the best dramatic writer whom Britain has pro- 
duced since the days of Shakespeare and Massinger. I 
hope you have had time to look into her tragedies (the 
comedies you may [pass] over without any loss), for I am 
sure you will find much to delight you, and I venture to 
prophesy you will one day have an excellent opportunity 
to distinguish yourself in some of her characters. I mean 
if the real taste for the Drama, independent of sham and 
scenery, should ever happen to revive, of which I think 
your being permitted to remain upon the shelf as you call 

1 Lord Dalkeith's eldest son. Edinburgh in 1810 and again in 

2 Merely a temporary leave- 1815. 
taking, as Mrs. Siddons returned to 



100 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

it is no very promising symptom. We have an actor 
here of considerable merit called Young; 1 he is a well- 
educated and gentleman-like man, and an enthusiast in 
his profession. I sometimes have the pleasure of seeing 
him in private, and like him very much. . . . 



TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Edinburgh, 13th March 1808. 

My dear Friend, — I see with pleasure that both the 
Marmions have been at last received. What should have 
delayed the delivery of the first, I cannot guess. As to 
the Holland House copy, assuredly I know nothing of it, 
not holding any correspondence with that mansion. The 
bookseller here satisfied me by showing his invoices that 
he sent off none so early as that to the Princess and your 
Ladyship's. I suspect strongly that Miller, 2 who has a share 
in the book, had fallen on some means to get a copy 
privately, being anxious I presume to gratify the Hollands 
since he became purchaser of Fox's work. All the Whigs 
here are in arms against Marmion. If I had satirised Fox 
they could have borne it, but a secondary place for the 
god of their idolatry puts them beyond the slender degree 
of patience which displaced patriots usually possess. I 
make them welcome to cry till they are hoarse against 
both the book and author, as they are not in the habit of 
having majorities upon their side. I suppose the crossed 
critics of Holland House will take the same tone in your 
Metropolis. 

You ask me why I do not rather think of original 

1 Charles Mayne Young was at 2 William Miller, Albemarle 

this time the rival of J. P. Kemble Street, was the publisher of Fox's 

in Hamlet. — See Memoirs by his Life of James II., as well as of 

son the Rev. Julian Young, 8vo, Scott's Dryden, and he had also a 

London, 1871. fourth share of Marmion. 



1808] TO LADY ABERCORN 101 

production than editing the works of others, and I will 
frankly tell your Ladyship the reason. In the first place, 
no one acquires a certain degree of popularity without 
exciting an equal degree of malevolence among those who, 
either from rivalship or the mere wish to pull down what 
others have set up, are always ready to catch the first 
occasion to lower the favour'd individual to what they call 
his real standard. Of this I have enough of experience, 
and my political interferences, however useless to my friends, 
have not failed to make me more than the usual number 
of enemies. I am therefore bound in justice to myself, 
and to those whose good opinion has hitherto protected me, 
not to peril myself too frequently. The naturalists tell us 
that if you destroy the web which the spider has just made, 
the insect must spend many days in inactivity till he has 
assembled within his person the materials necessary to 
weave another. Now after writing a work of imagination 
one feels in nearly the same exhausted state with the spider. 
I believe no man now alive writes more rapidly than I do, 
(no great recommendation,) but I never think of making 
verses till I have a sufficient stock of poetical ideas to 
supply them. I would as soon join the Israelites in Egypt 
in their heavy task of making bricks without straw. 
Besides, I know as a small farmer that good husbandry 
consists in not taking the same crop too frequently from 
the same soil, and as turnips come after wheat according 
to the best rules of agriculture, I take it that an edition of 
Swift will do well after such a scourging crop as Marmion. 
Meantime I have by no means relinquished my thoughts 
of a Highland poem, but am gradually collecting the 
ideas and information necessary for that task. Perhaps I 
shall visit Green Erin to collect what I can learn of Swift ; 
if so, I hope you will be at Barons Court when I undertake 
my pilgrimage to your native Land of Saints. My journey 
to London is unsettled, for Robert Dundas, or rather his 



102 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [April 

Lady, seems to think there is no immediate occasion for 
it. As Lord Melville will be in town shortly after this 
reaches your Ladyship, I fancy his presence will quicken 
the passing of the Scotch Bill ; and when that has passed 
Parliament, my motions will be decided by the order of the 
Commission appointed under it ; that is, if I am successful 
in being named their Secretary. 

Duchess of Gordon is here very gay and very angry 
with me. I believe I have been a little negligent in my 
attentions upon her, but she should consider how little my 
time is at my own disposal, and pity instead of abusing 
me. We are, however, very civil when we meet. 

My poor dear Lord Scott 1 will never leave my memory. 
I had a sort of feudal attachment to the boy, who was all 
the friends of his family could wish. Dalkeith and his 
Lady are gone to Bothwell, as I learn by a letter from Lord 
Montagu. I hardly know how the arrow of fate could 
have hit a more vulnerable point. But great and small, 
we are alike her butt. One thing alone is out of her 
power — the unalterable and sincere regard, with which 
I am, dear Lady Abercorn, your much obliged and very 
faithful W. S. 



TO THE SAME. 

Castle Street, 3d April 1808. 

Dear Lady Marchioness, — Accept with your usual 
goodness a copy of the Life of Dryden, of which Mr. Miller 
has thrown off a few separate from the works. We have 
often heard of a rivulet of text meandering through a 

1 Lord Scott, the Earl of Dal- Scott knew of his illness, and 

keith's eldest son, died a few days they would have been omitted in 

after Marmion was published. the second edition if the Author 

The well-known lines on the boy had not heard that they had given 

in the poem were printed before the poor mother a sad pleasure. 



1808] TO LADY ABERCOEN 103 

meadow of margin. But these books (saving that the shape 
is square) rather look like St. James's Square with the 
pool of water in the midst of it. 

The Morning Chronicle of the 29th March has made a 
pretty story of the cancel of page 10th of Marmion, which 
your Ladyship cannot but recollect was reprinted for the 
sole purpose of inserting the lines suggested so kindly by 
the Marquis — 

" For talents mourn, untimely lost, 
When best employed, and wanted most " ; 

I suppose from the carelessness of those who arranged 
the book for binding, this sheet may not in a copy or two 
have been right placed, and the worthy Editor affirms 
kindly that this was done that I might have copies to send 
to Mr. Pitt's friends in which these lines do not occur ! ! ! 
My publishers here, who forwarded the books, have written 
in great wrath to contradict the story, and were surprised 
to find I had more inclination to laugh at it. This is a 
punishment for appropriating my neighbour's goods. I 
suppose it would surprise Mr. Morning Chronicle con- 
siderably to know that the couplet in question was 
written by so distinguished a friend of Mr. Pitt as Lord 
Abercorn. 

The Princess of Wales sent me a most elegant silver 
cup and cover, with a compliment upon Marmion, parti- 
cularly on the part respecting the Duke of Brunswick, 
which was very flattering. 

When your Ladyship can find an opportunity to let 
me know that you like the Life of Dryden, that you are 
well, and that I live in your remembrance, I need not say 
how agreeable it will be to your most respectful and truly 
grateful W. Scott. 



104 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [April 



TO ROBERT SURTEES. 1 

4th April [1808]. 

My dear Sir, — ... As for Prince Charles — " he that 
wandering knight so fair " — we will talk about him when 
we meet. I have always thought of a Highland poem 
before hanging my harp on the willows, and perhaps it 
would be no bad setting for such a tale to suppose it 
related for his amusement in the course of his wanderings 
after the fatal field of Culloden. Flora Macdonald, 
Kingsburgh, Lochiel, the Kennedies, and many other 
characters of dramatic interest might be introduced, and 
the time is now passed away when the theme would have 
had both danger and offence in it. 

When you have read over Marmion, which has more 
individuality of character than the Lay, although it wants 
a sort of tenderness which the personage of the old 
minstrel gave to my first-born romance, you will be a 
better judge whether I should undertake a work which 
will depend less on incident and description than on the 
power of distinguishing and marking the dramatis personce. 
But all this is in embryo, the creation of your letter and 
may never go farther. . . . 

April 18th. — ... I am very glad you like Marmion; it 
has need of some friends, for Jeffrey showed me yesterday 
a very sharp review of it, — I think as tight a one as he 
has written since Southey's Madoc. As I don't believe the 
world ever furnished a critic and an author who were 
more absolute poco curanti about their craft, we dined 
together and had a hearty laugh at the revisal of the 
flagellation, 2 etc. etc. 

1 For entire letter see Memoir in the dinner at 39 Castle Street and 
Surtees' Society, vol. for 1852, p. 66. Jeffrey's letter to Scott, see Life, 

2 For Mr. Lockhart's account of vol. iii. pp. 50-55. 



1808] FROM JOANNA BAILLIE 105 



FROM JOANNA BAILLIE. 1 

Brown Square, April [1808]. 

My dear Sir, — 1 am afraid before we leave Edin r 1 
may have no opportunity of speaking to you, and therefore 
I write to you along with your manuscript, which I return 
with many thanks. I have read your Tragedy twice, and 
have been more pleased with it the second time than the 
first ; the story is very interesting, the writing forcible, 
and the characters of Rudiger and George — the dignity of 
the one and the spirit of the other — well imagined and 
contrasted. 

The opening of the piece pleased me very much, and so 
did that scene which is the most important one in the 
whole play, between the mother and her son when he 
wants to discover whether she is really guilty or not, tho' 
perhaps it is rather under- written (if I may use the phrase) 
from a fear of being extravagant. 

The scene in the Chapel I was also struck with, when 
the Lady is led off by the figure in black coming from 
behind her husband's tomb ; and the last scene is finely 
imagined, particularly the first part of it, when George 
discovers himself, and the man of fourscore is appointed 
to be his executioner. There is in the whole Play sufficient 
knowledge of nature and force of expression to make your 
friends look forward with a very pleasing hope to what 
may hereafter follow, when you shall write on a better 

1 When visiting Scott in Edin- task ! " Her honest criticism on 

burgh, the author of the Family the House of Aspen is here given. 

Legend, whose personal acquaint- George Ellis on the other hand was 

ance he had made in London in so delighted with this Germanised 

1806, undertook to give an opinion play that he told Scott he spent 

on an early dramatic attempt of the evening of his wedding-day 

Scott's. "To read his verses o'er reading it to his wife, 
and tell the truth ! A dangerous 



106 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [April 

dramatic plan, and allow your delightful imagination more 
liberally to enrich the work. 

The dry bare German way of writing suits a poor Poet, 
but not a rich one. 

If you ever make any use of this piece, I would have 
you to disencumber your plot of some things that might 
easily be spared, and bring more into view the character 
of George, which you have so justly imagined, while he is 
in the terrible state of suspense in regard to his mother's 
guilt. It is a pity that all this should be put over in one 
scene, when the audience might be kept in a state of the 
most agitating suspense that would wonderfully heighten 
the effect of the whole Play. 

But I hope some time or other to have an opportunity 
of speaking to you of these matters, so I shall only at 
present return you a great many thanks for the confidence 
you have put in me, and for the high gratification I have 
had in reading the House of Aspen. 

As you know, I have a Tragedy at home in which a wife 
discovers the guilt of her husband by the dying confession 
of a servant who was present at the crime, and I have 
scenes afterwards between her and the husband, in which 
she tries to discover whether he is really guilty or not. 
Don't after this think, if you should see it, that I have 
borrowed the idea from you ; it has been long written and 
is now in the hands of Mrs. Baillie ; and if you should ever 
work up this part of your piece more fully, it may be an 
amusement to us some time or other to compare the two 
plays in this respect together. 1 

I will not let you beat me on my own ground if I can 

1 The comparison may now be ing scenes, will be found in the 

made, as the House of Aspen is in- second vol. of Dramas published in 

eluded in Scott's Poetical Works, 1836, or in the collected edition of 

vol. xii. p. 363, and Joanna Baillie's her works, 8vo, London, 1835, p. 

tragedy called The Separation, in 530. 
which there are several very strik- 



1808] FKOM JOANNA BAILLIE 107 

help it ; but, if it must be so, I will less grudgingly yield 
the victory to you than any other poet I know of. 

With kind wishes to Mrs. Scott and the young laird 
of Gilnockie x and every living being that belongs to you, 
I remain, my dear sir, your sincere and obliged 

J, Baillie. 



FROM LADY LOUISA STUART. 2 

Gloucester Place, [April] 1808. 

Dear Sir, — You will think it is a persecution when 
you see my hand again, but I have a ridiculous grievance 
that if you cannot redress, perhaps you can at least help 
me to understand. 

When I first came to town my sister Lonsdale told me, 
laughing, she had heard news of me ; a very great Lady 
of your acquaintance had informed her that I was 
publishing a volume of poems at Edinburgh. Lady L. 
replied it was very unlike me, when the [Princess] with 
a peremptory "I know it to be true" reduced her to 
silence. I hooted at this, as you may suppose, but con- 
cluded her RH. had mistaken some other person's name 
for mine, and thought little more about the matter till 
yesterday, when my sister, who had again had the honour 
of dining at Blackheath, acquainted me that the Princess 
asked her before a large company whether I had yet let 
her into the secret of my publication. She repeated as far 
as respect would permit what I had myself said on the 
subject; but the P[rincess] more positively than before 
silenced her with "I know it; I tell you it is so; 
and if she will not trust you, then I will ; for I am to have 

1 The family name of young ' ' an excellent letter about an un- 
Walter. founded report. " 

2 Scott has written on the back, 



108 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [April 

a copy ; there are to be but fifteen printed, and Mr. Skene 
(Mr. Skene ! my dear Mr. Scott, whom I never saw in my 
life! or heard of till you read us the epistle to him at 
Bothwell!!!) — Mr. Skene has promised me one, which 
I will let you see when I get it. I believe Lady Louisa's 
name is not to be put to it, which I daresay is what she 
means by denying it." 

Some of the company on this enquired what her R.H. 
was talking of. She turns to them, "I was only men- 
tioning some poems of Lady Louisa Stuart's that she is 
publishing at Edinburgh." 

I hardly know whether I am awake or dreaming while 
I write this curious conversation; but upon my word it 
would provoke a saint. 

Imagine that my above-mentioned sister, nor any other 
member of my family, ever saw a verse of mine since I was 
seventeen, or had one in their possession ; and that many 
of them, and several of my most intimate friends, to this 
hour do not suspect I ever wrote one. It is really too hard 
upon a poor snail to be dragged by the horns into the high 
road, when it is eating nobody's cabbages, and only desires 
to live at peace in its own shell. However, if I could be 
certain the lye was a lye of the best and honestest 
kind, unadulterated by any faint mixture of some- 
thing like truth, I should make up my mind to patience, 
as if it were reported I had stood upon my head, or 
married my footman. But my dear sir, your theft of 
" Ugly Meg," comes very unpleasantly to my recollection ; 
not that I can or will suspect you (for all the Princesses in 
Europe) of playing me so unfair and barbarous a trick, as 
it would be to come within a hundred miles of verifying 
her R.H.'s assertion ; but I am sadly afraid that there lies 
the ground the story has been built upon; and that is 
bad enough to me. Mr. Skene being thus quoted by 



1808] FKOM LADY LOUISA STUAKT 109 

name, you may be able to find out — I dare not write it in 
English — que diable veut dire tout qa ? 

If " Ugly Meg " has the least share in it, I do most 
earnestly beg and beseech you, gratify me by putting her 
m the fire. I don't know whether the man in the old story 
was right when he called it a woman's highest praise not to 
be talked of one way or the other ; but I am sure it is her 
greatest blessing, and only way of living in comfort. At 
any rate, I entreat, nay (forgive the word!) insist, that 
when you visit this part of the world, you neither show it 
nor repeat it to the great lady in question, nor tell her 
anything about me. I would rather of the two see it in 
the Morning Post outright, for the currency of a newspaper 
is nothing to the gossip of a court. The former can tell a 
fact, false or true, but one way at once ; the latter varies, 
and multiplies, and modifies it in so many, that it be- 
comes past the power of the first relator to guess it ever 
was his own story, before it had been half an hour out of 
his mouth. 

Now I have said thus much, another conjecture has 
struck me ; may it not be Mr. Alison's funeral sermon on 
Sir Wm. Forbes, of which there were but a few copies 
printed, and some of those few have gone through my hands 
to people who were anxious for it here ? Mr. Skene may 
come in very naturally there. My friend's sermon being 
converted into a poem of mine, tho' it sounds like one of 
Harlequin's transformations, might be effected in the 
course of tattle through a very few tongues. 

Dear Mr. Scott, pardon my worrying you with this 
tedious letter, and if you can quash the nonsense that 
extorts it from me, or expound the riddle, you will very 
much oblige, yours, etc. etc., 

L. Stuart. 



110 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [April 



TO LADY LOUISA STUART. 

Edinburgh, 7th April 1808. 

My dear Lady Louisa, — I was honoured with your 
Ladyship's letter this morning. Unless the report in ques- 
tion be an express punishment from heaven for hiding 
your talent in a napkin, or that " there 's magic in the web 
on %" I cannot offer any absolute solution. I never, I am 
positive, mentioned your Ladyship's name to the high 
personage in question, or in writing to Miss Hayman, the 
only lady of her household with whom I have any cor- 
respondence. Skene, as your Ladyship may readily be- 
lieve, knows nothing of the intended publication, and was 
never so happy as to see any of the editor's verses. I 
think the artist who made the little sketch at the begin- 
ning of "Ugly Meg" would hardly presume to mention it, as 
I cautioned him on the subject. The poem was never 
given out of my own hand nor mentioned as your Lady- 
ship's, although I must plead guilty to having shown it 
to one or two literary friends, as a piracy which I had 
committed upon a lady of my acquaintance. If it is 
possible that the little drawing has been thus converted 
into a set of embellishments by Skene, the six pages of 
manuscript into fifteen copies of a printed book, wire 
wove, hot pressed, and with a suitable margin, I shall 
deeply regret being the cause, however innocently, of 
having done anything that could contribute to so wonder- 
ful a transformation. Yet I can hardly think it, as I am 
certain I never showed the poem to more than three 
persons. I cannot find in my heart to condemn "Ugly 
Meg " to the flames as a witch, being convinced she had 
so very little to do with the mysterious report in question, 
but in future she shall be condemned to as severe seclu- 
sion as if she was the fairest Circassian in the seven 



1808] TO LADY LOUISA STUART 111 

towers. Depend upon it, my dear Lady Louisa, that it 
any inquiry is made at me by her Koyal Highness upon 
this subject, I will attend most heed fully and pointedly to 
your injunctions. I must just say, if I am pointedly 
charged with the existence of " Ugly Meg," that she has 
been reclaimed by your Ladyship in consequence of some 
reports which had gone abroad of her being about to be 
given to the world, and that I had forgotten every line of 
her. By the way, I forgot to mention that I never showed 
"Ugly Meg" to any one since your Ladyship made my 
plunder lawful; so that I have been in all respects a 
thief of honour. I think it by no means unlikely that 
a jumble may have been made by that long-tongued 
gossip Fame between the sermon which was printed, the 
poem which was not printed, the drawings which Mr. 
Skene did make for the Princess, the drawings which he 
did not not make for " Ugly Meg." And out of this hodge 
podge, with a considerable mixture of unadulterated lye, 
the cup has been brewed which your Ladyship regards 
with so much terror. I am less surprised at anything of 
the kind, as by a process equally well founded and oracular, 
I had the inexpressible happiness to see myself but the 
other day pronounced by the Morning Chronicle guilty of 
garbling my own poem and giving one sort of book to Mr. 
Pitt's friends and another to the public ; yet I believe your 
Ladyship is more teazed with a report, the nature of which 
is not only innocent, but would, if true, do your talents 
honour, than I am with one that would argue me guilty 
of equal meanness and folly. But the feelings of a pro- 
fessed author, and such I must be while my family 
continues to require my exertions, get very callous to this 
species of scandal. I have adopted your Ladyship's kind 
suggestion about the speech of Constance, but after much 
consideration have placed only one hyphen or dash to 
express her confusion. Marmion, in consequence of an 



112 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTEES [April 

unexampled demand, has been hurried through the press, 
and the second edition is on the eve of publication. 
Miller in Albemarle Street will have a copy, of which I 
have to entreat your kind acceptance. A copy of the Life 
of Dryden will also kiss your hands in a day or two. 
. . . Adieu, dear Lady Louisa; I regret I am not the 
knight for whom it is reserved to break the charm which 
has converted a high-born and distressed lady into a pro- 
fessed authoress. I have no doubt it will soon dissolve of 
itself, 

For never spell by fairy laid, 

With strong enchantment bound a glade 

Beyond the bounds of night. 

Ever your obliged, Walter Scott. 1 



TO LADY ABERCORN. 

26th April (1808). 

My dear Lady Marchioness, — . . . If a wish could 
transport me to the Priory, I should not be long in paying 
my personal respects. Your heavenly weather makes me 
envy you, could I envy any advantage that is so well be- 
stowed. We are here among hills white with snow and 
rivers red with rain, the atmosphere being an ambigu 
between the one and the other, the land looking like Nova 
Zembla, though I am not conscious of having left Scotland, 
and the climate feeling like Christmas, though the Alma- 
nack maintains to my very face that it is the 26th of April. 
Yery sad all this, and what is worse, the groom says he 
cannot get forage for the horses, and the dairymaid protests 
that there is no food for the cows, and the lambs are dying 
by scores as fast as they are yeaned, — and the pigs — and 
the poultry — and the dogs — and lastly the children, are all 

1 Indorsation of the transcript wrote in a foolish fuss about a 
in Lady Louisa Stuart's hand- foolish fib of the Princess of Wales, 
writing: "Answer to a letter I viz., that I was editing my poems". 



1808] TO LADY ABERCORN 113 

in some danger of being actually starved. Seriously, I 
believe that if the weather does not mend speedily, we 
shall have a terrible year in our South Highlands, and still 
worse in the North. . . . 

The Whigs here and in London are furious, and yet I 
think with very little reason. If I did not rather dislike 
satire from principle, than feel myself altogether disqualified 
from it by nature, I have the means of very severe retalia- 
tion in my power, particularly with respect to Holland 
House, which has busied itself much more in my matters 
than I approve of. Is it not astonishing that people will 
begin to throw stones with so many glass windows in their 
own heads? Nobody cares what these great folks can 
say of me, but should I take the humour of returning their 
abuse, I suspect I v/ould find auditors enough. 

Sotheby told me he wrote his last poem to discharge 
his conscience of a religious duty, and without any refer- 
ence to temporal popularity. 1 I am concerned to observe 
from your Ladyship's letter that he is again suffering 
worldly ambition to creep in upon him. I am much 
flattered with Lawrence's approbation of Marmion. He is 
truly a man of genius; his own art cannot be practised 
without constant exercise of the imagination, and therefore 
his vote is worth that of hundreds. 

Have you heard, by the bye, that little Mrs. Riddell 
of Hampton Court (Burns's Mrs. Riddell 2 ) has married a 
young officer of Dragoons ? My friend Mathias (the author 
of the Pursuits of Literature) will in all probability break 
his heart upon this melancholy occasion. I am obliged to 
break off abruptly, for I see the carriage of a crazy Welsh 

1 William Sotheby Lad published Election songs with a compliment- 
a quarto volume of poetry, entitled ary letter to our "latest minstrel." 
Saul, in 1807. For details respecting Mrs. Riddell 

2 Scott made Mrs. Walter Rid- see Chambers's Burns. Her second 
dell's acquaintance when in London husband was an Irish gentleman 
in the spring of 1807. She after- named Fletcher. She died in 
wards sent him some of Burns's 1812. 



VOL. I. 



H 



114 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [June 

woman of our acquaintance, who is come (Lord help hur) 
to see our romantic scenery when it is ankle deep in snow. 
Have you ever seen hur ? She is a certain Miss Lydia 
White, nineteen times dyed blue, lively and clever and 
absurd to the uttermost degree, but exceedingly good- 
natured. 1 I think I must let her run some risque in fording 
the Tweed, that we may show to more advantage from her 
joy at finding herself on dry land. But as this joke must 

not be carried too far, good-bye, my dear friend. 

W. S. 

TO THE SAME. 

Edinburgh, 9th June 1808. 

My dear Lady Marchioness, — . . . No one is so sen- 
sible as I am of what deficiencies occur in my poetry from 
the want of judicious criticism and correction, above all 
from the extreme hurry in which it has hitherto been 
composed. The worst is that I take the pet at the things 
myself after they are finished, and I fear I shall never be 
able to muster up the courage necessary to revise Marmion 
as he should be revised. But if I ever write another poem, 
I am determined to make every single couplet of it as 
perfect as my uttermost care and attention can possibly 
effect. In order to ensure the accomplishment of these 
good resolutions, I will consider the whole story in humble 
prose, and endeavour to make it as interesting as I can 
before I begin to write it out in verse, and thus I shall have 
at least the satisfaction to know where I am going, my 
narrative having been hitherto much upon the plan of 
blind mans buff. Secondly, having made my story, I will 
write my poem with all deliberation, and when finished lay 
it aside for a year at least, during which quarantine I 
would be most happy if it were suffered to remain in 

1 Scott had a real regard for this death in 1827, Journal, vol. ii. 
lady of whom he writes thus play- pp. 351-2. 
fully. — See his remarks on her 



1808] TO LADY ABERCORN 115 

your escritoire or in that of the Marquis, who has the best 
ear for English versification of any person whom, in a 
pretty extensive acquaintance with literary characters, I 
have ever had the fortune to meet with ; nor is his taste at 
all inferior to his power of appreciating the harmony of 
verse. In this way I hope I shall be able to gain the great 
advantage of his Lordship's revision and consideration, pro- 
vided he should find it in any respect worthy his attention. 1 
You see what good resolutions I am forming ; whether they 
will be better kept than good resolutions usually are, time, 
which brings all things to light, will shew your Ladyship. 

As for her Grace of Gordon she is certainly the most 
ungracious of Graces if she says I read over Marmion 
to her. The only time she saw Marmion (excepting how- 
ever the first Introduction, which your Ladyship re- 
members was printed separately) was at the Priory, when 
I read some part of it one evening, and whether the 
Duchess was then so good as to point out any of its 
numerous errors, I really cannot recollect. I certainly 
neither had her Grace's particular amusement, nor the 
least intention of consulting her critically, in my head at 
the time. Our real quarrel is some supposed neglect in 
my not attending her parties last winter in Edinburgh. 2 

I have had a very handsome compliment from the 
booksellers who published Marmion, — no less than a hogs- 
head of excellent claret, which is equally flattering as a 
pretty sure mark that the book has succeeded with the 
public, and agreeable to a poor bard, whose cellars are 
not quite so well replenished with wine as his head with 
whimsies. 



1 Many years after the first Mar- lanies, vol. iv. (Kemble) p. 182. 

quis of Abercorn had gone to his 2 The Duchess of Gordon's ruling 

rest— he died in 1818— Scott en- passion at this time was an affecta- 

deavoured to do justice to his char- tion for literature and a desire to 

acter as a scholar, public speaker, be the arbitress of literary taste, 
landlord, and friend.— See Miscel- 



116 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [June 

I am endeavouring to get a copy of the Elgin Letters 
by my interest with little Jeffrey the Reviewer, who was 
the fair Lady's counsel in the case, but I doubt greatly 
being able to succeed in that quarter, for since I gave up 
assisting him in the Review, when their politics became so 
warm, my credit with him is a little at ebb. 

I have been threatening for some days past to go to 
Dunira 1 for a day or two, and pay my respects to the good 
old statesman. I wish the Marquis and your Ladyship would 
come down this summer. I should delight to go a little 
way into the Highlands with you, as I am certain you 
would be enchanted. 

I am truly glad you like the Dryden. I would have 
sent your Ladyship a whole set of the works if I had had 
a handsome one at my disposal. I am still turning my 
eyes towards Swift. My situation will not permit me to be 
idle, even if my inclination would leave me at rest. I beg 
my most respectful thanks to the Marquis, and I hope 
your Ladyship will tell him how much I intend to profit 
by his kind admonitions, which I account a very great 
favour among the many of various kinds which I have 
received at his hands. When this Scottish Judicature 
Bill gets through Parliament, I shall learn if I am likely to 
be wanted in London, and if so, I need not say how soon 
I will be an intruder at the Priory. — Believe me with very 
great respect, ever your Ladyship's truly obliged and very 
faithful W. S. 

TO THOMAS SCOTT. 2 

[20th June 1808.] 

My dear Tom, — I take this opportunity ... to offer 
you my best and warmest congratulations upon your 

1 Lord Melville's country house commission in the Manx Fencibles, 
near Crieff, Perthshire. and was then residing in the Isle of 

2 Thomas Scott, on giving up Man. 
business in Edinburgh, obtained a 



1808] TO THOMAS SCOTT 117 

approaching military preferment. I have no doubt you 
will now not only find yourself extremely comfortable, 
but also in a situation to save money, which like other 
things wants but a beginning. . . . 

Let me exhort you most heartily to give your mind to 
an edition of Shadwell, which I think I could dispose of 
for something handsome for you. I have almost all the 
original editions, and could take care that the press was 
properly corrected, and would also revise your notes, as 
you are diffident in point of language. I am perfectly 
sure you will find great pleasure in this work if you would 
but set about it ; and also that your habitual acquaintance 
with the old dramatists would enable you to make very 
entertaining notes and illustrations. I do not mention 
this merely as an easy way of picking up 100 guineas or 
so, but because I know by experience that one is apt to 
tire even of reading, unless we read with some special and 
determined object, — an employment which will fill up 
pleasantly many hours which might otherwise hang very 
heavy; at least you may believe it, I find it so myself, 
as I am just now seriously engaged in two mighty works, 
Lord Somers' Tracts and Swift's Works, which will keep 
me working for two or three years to come. . . . 

Charlotte is just returned from Ashestiel, and joins me 
in warmest joy to Mrs. Scott on your promotion. — Believe 
me, dear Tom, yours, W. S. 



TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Ashestiel, lUh October 1808. 
I would not have been so long silent, my dear Lady 
Abercorn, if I had either had anything interesting to 
communicate, or could have assured myself that in telling 
my no-story I was not intruding upon time which your 
Ladyship knows so well how to employ much better. The 



118 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Oct. 

summer has slid away without anything remarkable, 
except that I have been arranging for republication the 
large collection of Tracts published from Lord Somers' 
library. This occupation is little more than amusement, 
yet will be worth £400 a year to me for three or four 
years. I know your Ladyship will scold me for fagging in 
this way, but it is a sort of relaxation after Marmion, and 
Dryden requires little exertion, and is precisely the sort of 
thing I would wish to do for my own amusement, while it 
materially assists my family arrangements. As to the 
rest, I have been shooting a little and coursing a great deal, 
and have had the pleasure of some very agreeable visitors 
from England, particularly a Mr. Morritt and his lady. 1 
He is a great friend of Mr. Payne Knight, deep in Grecian 
lore of course, which led him some years ago to visit the 
very ground where Troy town stood. They had been on a 
visit to Lord and Lady Aberdeen, and were delighted with 
their kindness ; 2 they stayed about a week with us, and I 
shewed them all the remarkables in our neighbourhood, 
and told them a story for every cairn. 

I am still making collections towards an edition of 
Swift, and promise myself great advantage in this task 
from a visit to Ireland under your Ladyship's auspices. 
But we will talk of all this when I have the pleasure of 
being at the Priory, which I am apt to think will be in the 
course of a few weeks, probably in the beginning of next 
month. The Commission to which, by your Ladyship's 
kind intercessions, I am to act as Secretary, is expected 
(according to Lord Advocate's information) to meet in the 
beginning of November, when my presence will be necessary. 

1 The first notice of a meeting 2 At Haddo. Lady Aberdeen 

with Mr. Morritt of Rokeby, which was Lord Abercorn's daughter, 

led to one of the most valuable For the touching story of their 

friendships of Scott's life. Mr. brief married life, see Sir A. Gor- 

Morritt survived his friend until don's Memoir. London, 1893. 
1843. 



1808] TO LADY ABERCORN 119 

As I shall only be wanted for a short time in town, I have 
thoughts of bringing up Mrs. Scott with me, who has not 
been in London for some years. 

I should be much honoured by permission to inscribe 
my magnificent Swift to Lord Abercorn ; but your Lady- 
ship remembers what the Marquis said about Sotheby's 
Orestes. 1 I should not like to lay his Lordship under the 
dilemma of accepting what he might perhaps justly regard 
as no great compliment. Any new original work of my own 
is a very distant consideration. Could I arrange my motions 
exactly according to my wishes, I should like greatly to 
spend this winter in Spain. I am positive that in a nation 
so strangely agitated, I might observe something both of 
the operation of human passions under the strongest 
possible impulse, and of the external pomp and cir- 
cumstance attending military events, which could be 
turned to account in poetry. I do not mean that I would 
precisely write a poem on the Spanish events, 2 but that I 
would endeavour to collect from what I might witness 
there, so just an idea of the feelings and sentiments of a 
people in a state of patriotic enthusiasm, as might here- 
after be useful in any poetical work I might undertake. 
The poets of the present day seem always to be copying 
from the ancients and from each other. I would fain if 
possible have a peep at the great Book of Nature. All this 
is of course an airy vision, yet I cannot banish the wish 
from my mind, though without any hope of gratifying it. 

Should this letter be a little dull, your Ladyship's 
charity must impute it to this deplorable day, which after 
all borders however more on the terrific than the stupifying. 
It has snowed, rained, hailed, and blown, without a moment's 
cessation, for 36 hours. The river Tweed has come down 

1 Sotheby's Tragedy was pub- August, and was followed next day 
lished in 1802. by the Convention of Cintra. 

2 Vimeira was fought on the 21st 



120 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Oct. 

" three yards abreast," as my hind expresses it — a grand 
spectacle, the magnificence of which is all I am likely to 
enjoy for a field of potatoes which it is in the very act of 
destroying. 

I beg my respectful compliments to Lady Maria, 1 
the Marquis, and Lord Hamilton, and Mrs. Scott offers 
hers to your Ladyship. — Adieu, my dear Lady Abercorn, 
I am ever your Ladyship's much obliged, most devoted 

W. Scott. 

TO MORRITT. 2 

15th Oct. 1808. 

My dear Sir, — I was quite happy to learn that Mrs. 
Morritt had not received any great inconvenience from 
my injudicious anxiety to show her as much of the won- 
ders of Yarrow as our time would permit. I was really 
angry at myself for not recollecting how bad the roads 
must have been after so much rain. I can only hope I 
will have a more propitious season the next time I have 
the pleasure of shewing Mrs. Morritt and you the beauties 
of Ettrick. 

The ornaments on Bishop Bell's tomb, which I have 
this morning received your draught of, are very curious, 
and certainly shew some resemblance to those in Strath- 
more. But there is this essential difference, that in the 
Bishop's case they seem to have been merely an arabesque 
border on which the artist doubtless exercised his own 
fancy; whereas upon the stones they stand in place of 
all sort of inscription or sepulchral notice whatever, and 
are therefore in the latter case the principal, whereas 
upon the tomb of the Bishop I conceive them only 

1 Lord Abercorn's youngest Mr. Morritt, on his return, called 
daughter. his friend's attention to the gro- 

2 When Morritt was at Ashestiel tesque animal ornamentations on 
he and Scott had a discussion on Bishop Bell's tomb at Carlisle, 
the sculptured stones of Scotland. of which he now sent a tracing. 



1808] TO MORRITT 121 

to be accessories. The disposition of the Gothic artists 
of every kind bordered on the grotesque ; they carved 
upon every coign, buttress, and point of vantage over 
and over with the wildest forms their imagination could 
suggest. Still, however, these were only subordinate 
ornaments which the spectator sometimes hardly per- 
ceived without minute and curious inspection, whereas 
the standing stones bear little or nothing else than these 
pieces of imagery, which one would therefore suppose in- 
tended in some way or other to bear reference to the 
events of which these stones are obviously mementoes. 
Besides, I think it very unlikely that any person so re- 
markable as to have a laboured and expensive monument 
erected over him should have been interred at Glamis or 
Meigle so late as the fifteenth century without record or 
tradition telling us something of the matter. We know 
the burial-places of the Lindsays, Ogilvies, Ruthvens, 
Grays, Oliphants, and other families of rank in Angusshire, 
who lie decently interred under such monuments as you 
usually see in a cathedral — i.e. when they have had any 
monument at all erected to them — and I will venture to 
say that there are few such structures to which tradition 
does not hold up her lamp to aid us more or less clearly 
to read the decayed inscription ; but the only tradition of 
these tombs carries us back to the days of romance, plainly 
showing therefore that no later or better-grounded history 
could be attached to them. It is very improbable that 

Mrs. Grant of Laggan who had and affectionate. I have not seen 

charge of Morritt's nephew, visited a person so completely educated, 

Rokeby in the autumn of 1807, and and who has been so much in the 

describes husband and wife: — "I world, that retains so much nature, 

was greatly pleased with Mr. Mrs. Morritt is, I think, an excellent 

Morritt of Rokeby Park, the uncle woman, little less intelligent than 

of my little ward : he is learned, her husband ; with the same kind- 

without the least pedantry, lively nessof heart and kindred virtues.— 

without levity, and has such frank- Memoir and Correspondence, vol. i. 

ness and simplicity of manner, and p. 121. 
seems to have a temper so obliging 



122 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Oct. 

they could have acquired the name of Yanore's tomb, etc., 
unless when the history of King Arthur was current in 
Scotland. Supposing that to carry us back about 200 years, 
and I can hardly allow less, is it probable that in a land of 
tradition like Scotland the romantic name and history 
derived from these legends should have in 1600 attached 
itself to the tomb of a Scottish chief who had then been dead 
only one or two hundred years ? The fame of a Lindsay 
or a Lyon would not have been so easily dispossessed, and 
his name would have clung to his monument spite of 
King Arthur and all his chivalry, and of Queen Ganora 1 
and all her iniquities. Let me add also that these stones 
agree exactly in appearance with that at Forres and those 
at Aberlemno, to which history enables us with some pre- 
cision to ascribe a date, namely, during the Danish 
invasions. Yet one word on Bishop Bell's monument, 
though not quite to the present purpose. I have been 
much puzzled with certain antique brass plates used 
chiefly to collect the offerings at the door of Scottish 
churches. Besides something like a Scripture piece in 
the centre, I have seen more than one of them have 
characters inscribed around the verge, each word inter- 
changed with such an emblematic or fanciful monster as 
occurs in your inscription. This matter interested me so 
much that I had one inscription carefully copied, and 
showed it to Mr. Douce, who informed me that in the 16th 
and 17 th centuries the principal manufacture of such 
vessels was in the north of Germany, and that they 
were comparatively of modern date. I think it very likely 
that the brass rim for Bell's tomb may have been im- 
ported in like manner from the same country. This does 
not bear indeed on the question of the stones, which you 
see I am determined shall be just the younger brothers of 
those of Deucalion and Pyrrha. ... I have been informed 

1 Queen Guenever of Malory. 



1808] TO MORRITT 123 

I may expect to be called to London about the beginning 
of next month, and rather think Mrs. Scott seems dis- 
posed to accompany me, and we reflect with great pleasure 
on the opportunity it will give us to visit Rokeby Park on 
our way southward, and cultivate an acquaintance which 
does us so much pleasure and honour. 

Heber has made us one of his flying visits, although he 
came all the way from Ripon on purpose. We could not 
get him to stay longer than three days with us. Perhaps 
you have seen him at Rokeby, as he is rather an erratic 
than a fixed star. Mrs. Scott joins in kindest respects to 
Mrs. Morritt, and I am always, my dear sir, your most 
obliged and faithful servant, Walter Scott. 



TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Ashestiel, 27th October 1808. 

My dear Lady Abercorn, — When I last wrote to 
you, I little thought I should have had such truly 
melancholy occasion to address your Ladyship again. 
I was quite shocked, though hardly surprised, to see 
announced in the papers the heavy loss which the 
Marquis has sustained in poor Lord Claud. I would 
be greatly obliged to you, my dear Madam, when 
you have a moment's time, to let me know how Lord 
Abercorn supports this deep and severe dispensation of 
Providence. I dare not indulge myself with the hope that 
there is any uncertainty in the report, as I heard such 
precarious accounts of his health from Madeira. It seems 
as if an evil fate had attended of late the families for whose 
prosperity and preservation I was bound equally by grati- 
tude and inclination to be most anxiously interested. I 
saw Lady Dalkeith two days ago for the first time after the 
loss of poor dear Scott, and never passed a more painful 
interview in my life. She knew my attachment to the 



124 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Oct. 

poor boy, and wept most bitterly indeed. Thus Providence 
chequers the brightest prospects, and alloys the most 
exalted lot by misfortunes which are common to the 
lowest ; but on such subjects consolation is in vain ; the 
patient must minister it to himself, or await it from the 
hand of time. Do be so good as to let me know how the 
Marquis is. I know he will feel this blow most acutely, 
and believe me, ever your very faithful and respectful 

W. Scott. 

I had written thus far when I was honoured with your 
Ladyship's letter. God comfort you all, for He only can. . . . 

I really thought of asking Lord Abercorn to suffer 
Marmion to be inscribed to him, and was only deterred 
by hearing him express his general dislike to dedications, 
which I thought might be a little hint for my conduct. 
Truth is, that unless the Marquis and the Buccleuch 
family, to whom I am naturally much attached, there are 
none among the great whom I am at all likely to intrude 
upon in this way, for as it is all I ever can do to show my 
respect and attachment, I would not willingly render it 
cheap by offering it to persons for whom I felt an inferior 
regard. 

Had Lord Melville continued out of power, I should 
have liked to have inscribed my edition of Dryden to him, 
but there are many and insuperable objections to dedica- 
ting to any person in office, or next door to it. The next 
tale of chivalry shall certainly be Lord Abercorn's, that is, 
it shall be yours, my dear friend, and you shall dispose of 
it as you please. But when it will be written is a question 
of difficult decision. 

My Spanish scheme is a mere romance, yet had I time 
next summer, I would try to realize it, as I learn languages 
easily, and can without inconvenience suffer a little hard- 
ship as to food and lodging. 



1808] TO LADY ABERCORN 125 

My London journey is still uncertain. I shall perhaps 
learn something of it to-day, for Robert Dundas (Lord 
Melville's son) and his lady are to spend two days with us 
upon a pilgrimage to the ruins of Melrose. And Charlotte 
is calling to me to get out to look after hares and partridges 
for them, for in the desert we may sometimes say with 
Robin Hood : — 

" The meat we are to dine upon 
It runneth yet on foot." 

Once more, your truly attached W. S. 



TO MISS SEWARD. 

1808. 

. . . Your defence of my poetry was worthy of the 
friend, and more than worthy of the poet, and your high 
estimation of me must teach me more care and prudence 
on some future occasion, though heaven only knows when 
that occasion will arrive. Jeffrey I hear has reviewed my 
edition of Dryden, and censures me for employing my time 
in editing the works of others. 1 But what would he have ? 
I have neither time nor inclination to be perpetually 
making butterflies, that he may have the pleasure of 
pulling their legs and wings off, and till writing occasionally 
shall cease to be a matter of convenience to my family, 
I will indulge myself in it easily and unambitiously. 
The critics tell me a poet ought to take care of his 
reputation, and really I think, like honest Bob Acres, 
that the best thing reputation can do in return is 
to take some care of the poet, and mine I am resolved 
shall do so. 

As to the unfading laurels which they are kind enough 

1 The article on Dryden is under- must have been added by another 

stood to have been written by hand. — See Edinburgh Review, vol. 

Hallam {Life, iii. p. 69), but person- xiii. p. 117. 
alities such as Scott complained of 



126 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [1808 

to promise me if I will dedicate my time solely to the 
Muses, I care not for rewards which from their very 
nature are to be posthumous. Neither is it easy to gull 
me with these fair promises. The immortality of poetry 
is not so firm a point of my creed as the immortality of 

the soul. 

" I 've lived too long 
And seen the death of much immortal song." 

Nay, those that have really attained this literary im- 
mortality have gained it under very hard conditions. To 
some it has not attached till after death, and I like not 
such grinning honour as Falstaff says of my namesake Sir 
Walter Blunt. To others it has been the means of hand- 
ing down personal vices and follies which had otherwise 
been unremembered in their epitaphs. And all en- 
joy this same immortality under a condition similar to 
that of Noureddin in an Eastern tale. Noureddin you 
remember was to enjoy the gift of immortality, but with 
this qualification, that he was subjected to long naps of 
forty, fifty, or an hundred years at a time. Even so 
Homer and Virgil slumbered through whole centuries. 
To be sure these were the dark ages, and therefore proper 
for repose. 

Shakespeare himself enjoyed undisturbed sleep from 
the age of Charles I. until Garrick waked [him]. Dryden's 
fame has nodded, that of Pope begins to be drowsy; 
Chaucer is as sound as a top, and Spenser is snoring in the 
midst of his commentators. Milton indeed is quite awake, 
but observe he was at his very outset refreshed with a nap 
of half a century ; and in the midst of all this we sons of 
degeneracy talk of immortality. Let me please my own 
generation, and let those that come after us judge of their 
taste and my performances as they please, the anticipation 
of their neglect or censure will affect me very little. I 
have been quite delighted with Southey's Gid, which is of 



1808] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 127 

the kind the most pleasing and perfect thing I have read 
this many a day. . . . 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE 

Ashestiel, 31st October 1808. 

My dear Miss Baillie, — "From the chase on the 
mountain as I was returning," our little estafette brought 
me your very very kind letter. Believe I am fully 
sensible of the value of your friendly solicitude, and I wish 
I were as able as desirous to merit its continuance. I may 
say this with confidence, because it is the simple truth, that 
there breathes not the person whose opinion I hold in equal 
reverence, and therefore I leave you to judge how proud 
I am of the rank you have given me in it. I hasten to 
tell you that I never entertained for a second, a notion 
so very strange as to dedicate any poem to my friend 
Jeffrey, nor can I conceive how so absurd and causeless 
a rumour should have arisen. There is a foundation for 
the other part of the story, though no larger than a 
midge's wing. I had been making a little excursion to 
Stirling with Mrs. Scott, chiefly to show her that interesting 
part of Scotland, and on viewing the field of Bannock- 
burn I certainly said that one day or other before I died, 
I hoped to make the earth yawn and devour the English 
archery and knighthood, as it did on that celebrated day 
of Scottish glory. This occasioned a little laughing at 
the time and afterwards, and was sufficient according to 
the regular progression of rumour to grow into a written 
or perhaps a printed form before it reached the city of 
London. But, independent of indolence, I am greatly too 
cautious to venture upon any new poetical essay for this 
long time to come ; and as you are kind enough to permit 
me such ready access to you, I shall hope for your opinion 
on any future attempt, long before I have thought of a 
dedication. As to Mr. Jeffrey, I have great personal regard 



128 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Oct. 1808 

for him, and high estimation of his talents. I have seldom 
known a man with equal readiness of ideas, or power of 
expressing them. But I had no reason to be so very 
much gratified by his review of Marmion as to propitiate 
him by a dedication of any work of mine. I have no 
fault to find with his expressing his sentiments frankly 
and fairly upon the poem, yet I think he might without 
derogation to his impartiality, have couched them in 
language rather more civil to a personal friend, and I 
believe he would have thought twice before he had given 
himself that air of superiority in a case where I had any 
chance of defending myself. Besides, I really have often 
told him that I think he wants the taste for poetry which 
is essentially necessary to enjoy, and of course to criticise, 
it with justice. He is learned with the most learned in 
its canons and laws, skilled in its modulation, and an 
excellent judge of the justice of the sentiments which it 
conveys, but he wants that enthusiastic feeling which like 
sunshine upon a landscape lights up every beauty, and 
palliates, if it cannot hide, every defect. To offer a poem 
of imagination to a man whose whole life and study has been 
to acquire a stoical indifference towards enthusiasm of every 
kind, would be the last, as it would surely be the silliest, 
action of my life. This is really my opinion of Jeffrey, not 
formed yesterday, nor upon any coldness between us, for 
there has been none. He has been possessed of it these 
several years, and it certainly never made the least differ- 
ence between us ; but I neither owe him, nor have the least 
inclination to offer him, such a mark of regard as the 
dedication of any work, past, present, or to come. . . . 



CHAPTEE V 

1809 
EDINBURGH AND ASHESTIEL 



: And is it now a goodly sight, 

Or dreadful to behold, 
The pomp of that approaching fight, 
Waving ensigns, pennons light, 
And gleaming blades and bayonets bright, 

And eagles wing'd with gold ; 
And warrior bands of many a hue, 
Scarlet and white and green and blue, 
Like rainbows, o'er the morning dew, 

Their various lines unfold : " 

Talavera. By J. Wilson Crokeb. 



VOL. I. 



FAMILY ANNALS AND LITERARY WORK 



1809— age 38 



Death of Camp, January. 

Quarterly Review launched. No. 1 pub- 
lished March 1809. 

Scott visits London with wife, March and 
April ; returns by Rokeby, May. 

Sadler's State Papers, 2 vols. 4to, published 
by Constable, Edinburgh, 1809. 

Becomes a Shareholder in the Edinburgh 
Theatre. 

Visits Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond 
with wife and daughter, July. 

Lady of the Lake commenced. 



Contributions to Quarterly Review— 

Cromeh's Burns -\ 

Southey's Cid 

Sir John Carr's V in No. 1, March 1809. 

Scotland 
Life of Swift J 



Campbell's Ger-y 
trude of Wyom- 
ing 

Cumberland's John 
de Lancaster J 



in No. 2, May 1809. 



The Battles <>/} in No . 4) Nov. 1809. 
Talavera ) 



CHAPTER V. 



TO PATRICK MURRAY. 



15th February 1809. 

My dear Murray, — ... It has, tho' rather too 
late, been resolved upon to attempt to divide the public 
with the Edinburgh Reviewers, and try if it be not 
possible, by a little havering and fun upon the other side 
of the question, to balance the extensive and extending 
influence which that periodical publication has acquired. 
William Gifford, renowned as the author of the " Baviad " 
and " Mseviad," and as the editor of the Anti- Jacobin news- 
paper, is the manager of this new work, which is to be 
called the Quarterly Revievj. I have some reasons for 
not being very sanguine in my hopes of success. The 
energy of folks in a right cause is always greatly inferior 
to that of their adversaries. They trust, good souls, to 
the intrinsic merit of their cause, and let it stick, like 
iEsop's waggon in the slough, while they address prayers 
to Hercules, instead of flogging the horses and putting 
shoulder to the wheel. Yet the aggregate of talent from 
which assistance is expected is very formidable. And it 
Gifford can spur on his coadjutors, I rather think we will 
make a handsome skirmish. 

Now the corollary to this proposal is one which is in 
some degree mine own device, namely, an Annual Register 
in Edinburgh, to prevent the opposite faction from estab- 
lishing such a work. . . . 

Now my dear friend, you must give us a little assist- 
ance in this matter of the Register. You have, I know, 

1S1 



132 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

many curious letters from the learned of the last genera- 
tion, and I think you might find one or two among them 
which could, without impropriety, and to the great advan- 
tage of the public, be printed in such a deposit. I am 
very anxious to get any scraps that can make the first 
volume as respectable as possible. I intend to revise and 
overlook the historical part, and as I am going to London 
I have little doubt I shall get access to materials of the 
most important kind. Indeed, Mr. Canning has promised 
me all assistance upon this head. — I am, with great regard, 
yours faithfully, Walter Scott. 1 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Edinr., 13 March [1809]. 

Dear Lady Abercorn, — I hope to have the honour 
of seeing you so soon that a very few lines may 
serve to express the pleasure I feel in your so kindly 
accepting the verses I sent you. ... On Sunday I 
leave this place for town, and before the end of the 
week I hope to pay my respects to the Marquis. . . . 
We have been tearing each other's throats out like 
our own Highland terriers about the Scottish Judicature 
Bill, as the ministers are pleased to call it. I was 
astonished to see to-day in the Courier that some 
officious friend had given a (clumsy enough) report of 

1 This letter refers not only to establishment of the Quarterly Re- 

the establishment of the Quarterly view than even the comprehensive 

Review, but also to the unfortunate statements of Mr. Lockhart, and 

publishing enterprise on which more recently of Mr. Smiles ; but 

Scott had just embarked in con- readers of the present volume will 

junction with James and John perhaps be content with a few 

Ballantyne, and in which he was specimens, given in the Appendix, 

deeply involved for the next five of the petitions, complaints, and 

years. thanks, that came in quick suc- 

The numerous letters in the cession to Scott in his Tweedside 

Abbotsford collection from Ellis, farm from the sorely afflicted editor 

Gifford, and Murray, give a truer during the next two years, 
idea of the share Scott had in the 



1809] TO LADY ABERCORN 133 

what I tried to say for my poor old mother, the Law of 
Scotland. The circumstance will not tend to recommend 
me to those with whom I have unfortunately some official 
matters to arrange, and it was hardly fair to put me into 
the front of the battle ; however, I care very little about it 
I never was gifted with the prudence either of suppressing 
my feelings or eating in my words, and I am only sorry 
they were not more neatly taken down. — Believe me, dear 
Lady Abercorn, your honoured, humble servant, 

Walter Scott, 
to southey. 

London, 4th May 1809. 
... A pressure of business, chiefly professional, has 
sent me up to this town, where I found the bearer of this 
letter, the younger Ballantyne of Edinburgh. I am not 
so well acquainted with him as with his brother, but 
enough to introduce him to you as an active and intelli- 
gent young man, very likely to make as great figure in 
the publishing trade as his brother does in the printing. 
He has been highly countenanced by all the booksellers 
of credit here, especially by your friends in the Row. His 
chief purpose of calling upon you is, to talk over the plan 
at which you hinted, of a British Librarian, to be pub- 
lished periodically. The Censura 1 is immediately to be 
given up, and Longman & Co. are to have some concern 
in this new work, which is however to be managed in 
Edinburgh. I think with you there is ample room for 
such a work ; and that if conducted by you it would have 

1 Brydges' Censura (1809). The commencing with 1808, was dog- 
projected British Librarian, which gedly persisted in, notwithstanding 
South ey proposed naming Rhada- a heavy yearly loss, until 1827, 
manthus, never came to maturity, when it was discontinued. Southey 
and the idea was not even partially wrote the historical portion for 
carried out until 1820, when the some years, and was succeeded in 
Retrospective Review was com- that department by Scott, and 
menced. subsequently by John Gibson 

The Edinburgh Annual Register, Lockhart. 



134 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [June 

great interest, and suit both readers, booksellers, and 
editors. Indeed, I think smaller tracts which have an 
interest independent of their scarcity or antiquity ought 
to be reprinted at length, so that the miscellany might 
in some respects be a continuation of the Harleian, on a 
better plan. Should this plan be adopted, a quarto size 
will be preferable to 8vo, because it holds more. One vol. 
or even two might be published yearly. I will, in this or 
any undertaking in which I am at all qualified to assist, 
hold your backhand with great pleasure. . . . The title of 
such a work would be matter of serious consideration, but 
as I trust we shall speedily meet, we might beat our brains 
about that at leisure. 

I hope to leave this place in about ten days, so pray let 
me know whether I shall find you disposed to come on 
with us to Edinburgh ; there is nobody with me but Mrs. 
Scott. If you are unshaken in your resolution I will take 
my homeward route by Keswick, and we will take our 
northward flight together, as my stay here has been long. 
I fear even the Lake must not tempt me to stay above one 
night in its vicinity, so that I doubt I shall not even see 
Wordsworth, whom I would go some few miles to see at 
any time. 

Everybody is delighted with your Missionary Review ; 
the Quarterly has taken root and will thrive. Ever, dear 
Southey, yours most truly, Walter Scott. 

Pray write by return of post and don't disappoint me 
in my hopes of carrying you to Edinburgh. 

TO THE SAME. 

London, \4&h June 1809. 

My unaccountable silence must have surprised you, 

but my motions depending on other people I have been 

kept till this day under a total uncertainty when I should 

be permitted to leave London. To-day I have at length 



1809] TO SOUTHEY 135 

received permission to shake the dust from my feet against 
this precious city, and to-morrow I hope to set forward. 
Sunday and Monday I intend to spend at Rokeby Park, 
near Greta Bridge, with my friend Morritt, and on Tuesday 
I resume my journey. 

Now if I thought there was hope of carrying you with 
us to Edinburgh I would be at Keswick on Tuesday night 
for certain, and as there is no one but Mrs. Scott and myself, 
we could have the pleasure of your company in the snuggest 
way possible. But if this confounded visitor of yours 1 
(I beg his pardon) has really arrived so mat a apropos as to 
interrupt all prospect of what I have so much at heart, I 
fear I must proceed by Penrith to Carlisle without leaving 
the great road ; for as I could only stay a night at Keswick, 
my presence in Edin r being more than needful, it would 
hardly be worth while to make a detour for so very short 
a visit. Pray write to me by return of post, addressed 
care of John Bacon Morritt, Esq™, Rokeby Park, Greta 
Bridge, which will decide my motions. If, as I would fain 
flatter myself, we are destined to meet, I have much to say 
to you about the Quarterly Review, Rhadamanthus, etc. 
etc. I do not apprehend there is any great risque of our 
politics differing where there are so many strings in 
unison, but it may doubtless happen. Meanwhile every 
one is grateful for your curious and invaluable articles, 2 
and this leads to a subject which I would rather have 
spoken than written upon, but the doubt of seeing you 
obliges me to touch on it. George Ellis and I have both 
seen a strong desire in Mr. Canning to be of service to you 
in any way within his power that could be pointed out, 
and this without any reference to political opinions. An 
official situation in his own department was vacant, and I 
believe is still so. This he meant to offer you, but it 

1 Southey's friend Danvers. second No. had just been pub- 

2 In the Quarterly, of which the lished. 



136 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [June 

occurred to Geo. Ellis and me that trie salary, £300, was 
inadequate for an office occupying much time, inferring 
constant attendance. But there are professors' chairs both 
in England and Scotland frequently vacant, and there is 
hardly one, unless such as are absolutely professional, for 
which you are not either fitted already, or capable of 
making yourself so, on short notice. There are, besides, 
diplomatic and other situations, should you prefer them 
to the groves of Academe. In short, I think you will be 
unjust to yourself and your family if you neglect to avail 
yourself of an opportunity of becoming a little more inde- 
pendent of the Row, which has been rarely so handsomely 
presented to any literary character. Mr. Canning's oppor- 
tunities to serve you will soon be numerous or they will 
be gone altogether, 1 for he is of a different mould from 
some of his colleagues, and a decided foe to these half 
measures which I know you detest as much as I do. It 
is not his fault that the cause of Spain is not at this 
moment triumphant ; this I know, and there will come a 
time when the world will know it too. Meanwhile all this 
is strictly confidential. Think over the thing in your 
own mind, and let it if possible determine you on your 
northern journey. What would I not give to secure you a 
chair in our Northern Metropolis ! 2 We will talk the matter 
over together. I should write to Geo. Ellis upon your 

i About three months later (Sept. ■ Of Edinburgh society I think very 

21st) Canning fought a duel with little. Jeffrey is amusing from his 

his colleague Castlereagh — mainly wit; in taste he is a mere child, and 

on account of the Walcheren Ex- he affects to despise learning because 

pedition. This led to the retire- he has none. '..' I really cannot feel 

ment of the Duke of Portland, angry with anything so diminutive ; 

Castlereagh, and Canning when a he is a mere Jwmunculus, and would 

Ministry was formed under Perceval do for a major in Gog and Magog's 

in November. army, were they twice as little. ' 

2 Judging from Southey's opinions Compared with Coleridge and 

of Scotland after his visit in 1805, Wordsworth, 'the Scotch literatuli 

he would not have been happy in a are very low indeed.' . . ' We were 

Scottish University ; for he wrote three days at Scott's,— a much 



1809] TO SOUTHEY 137 

wishes, as he enjoys Mr. Canning's entire confidence. I. 
ought in conscience to have made ten thousand pretty- 
detours about all this, and paid some glowing compli- 
ments both to the Minister and the Bard ; but they may 
be all summed up by saying in one sober word, that 
Mr. C. could not have entertained a thought more honour- 
able to himself, and knowing him as I do, I must add 
more honourable and flattering to your genius and learning. 
Mrs. Scott joins in kindest compliments to Mrs. 
Southey. — Kemember me kindly to Wordsworth if within 
reach. Walter Scott. 1 

TO THE SAME. 

16th July 1809. 

... I long for Gifford's answer to your proposal ; he is 
the laziest of editors. Your Alderman 2 is delightful. I 
am surprised, with your turn for dialogue, that you never 
tried the Drama. We have, or are about to have, a very 
nice theatre at Edin r , about which as a trustee for the 
public (a thankless task) I have been lately busying my- 
self. Should you ever produce a Drama, I think we will 
by and bye be able to do more than these immense London 
Stages, fit only for pantomime and raree-show. As for 
Queen Orraca, I grieve for her being printed, for half my 
fame as a minstrel reciter depends upon her, and the 
other half on a very clever ballad 3 of Lady Louisa Stuart. 

superior man, whom it is impossible x A portion of this letter has 

not to like.' Pleased with him, been printed in Southey's Life and 

with Johnny Armstrong's Castle, Correspondence, vol. iii. pp. 236-7. 

pleased with Teviotdale, with the 2 ' ' I have sent Ballantyne Queen 

Tweed and the Yarrow, astonished Orraca and the Alderman's Funeral 

at Edinburgh. ' Delighted with for a miscellaneous collection which 

Melrose. Sick of Presbyterianism, he is making." — Southey to his 

and above all things, thankful that brother, ii. p. 154. 

I am an Englishman and not a 3 The ballad on "Ugly Meg" 

Scotsman.' — Selections, vol. i. p. of Elibank, for which Chas. K. 

342, etc. ; Correspondence, vol. ii. Sharpe made the humorous sketch 

p. 351. now at Abbotsford. 



138 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTEES [July 

But I cannot set my private renown in competition with 
the public advantage. I think it will be an invaluable 
acquisition for the Minstrelsy. 

TO MORRITT. 

Ashestiel, Selkirk, 22nd July [1809], 
Your letter, my dear Morritt, reached me just as I was 
relieved of the load of business which had been accumulat- 
ing during my absence in London, and which — though as 
Johnson said, when I set myself doggedly to it I can work 
as hard as any man — well nigh stunned and overwhelmed 
me. I have however wrought my way hitherward, and 
honest Christian in the Pilgrim's Progress never felt more 
relieved when his burthen dropped from him and rolled 
into the sepulchre, than I did this moment. I need not 
say how warmly Charlotte and I recollect all the hospi- 
tality of Portland Place and Rokeby. It is a cruel thing 
that there is more than a day's journey between us, for 
that would be easily dashed through ; yet the distance can- 
not be immense, for we dined here at three o'clock the 
day after we left Rokeby, so that assuredly ought to be no 
insurmountable bar to our meeting again. I am much 
surprised at the rejection of your excellent article on 
Warburton, but a good deal happened when I was in 
London to shew me that GifFord wants much of that tact 
which is necessary to conduct with spirit the work he has 
undertaken. It was with some difficulty that Ellis and I 
prevailed for the admission of the Austrian article that 
saved the last number. 1 There is a lame and cowardly 
caution which prepares all the world for the defeat of the 
combatant who exhibits such a suspicious symptom. When 
the sword was once drawn I would have hurled the scab- 
bard into Thames. But I was not held worthy to advise, 

1 Austrian State Papers in No. 2, understood to have been written by 
Sharon Turner and Canning. 



1809] TO MOEEITT 139 

at least not listened to upon that topic. I will, I think, 
write once more and very fully to Gifford, but it shall be 
for the last time. Not that I will withdraw my own feeble 
assistance while a limb of the thing sticks together, but I 
will not subject myself to give my friends the trouble of 
labouring in vain. All Gifford's excellent talent, and no 
less excellent principle, will do little to save the Review 
unless he will adopt a more decisive tone of warfare and 
greater energy in his mode of conducting it. It is a 
thousand pities, and I would gnaw my nails off to see so 
excellent a design miscarry, but what can be done ? I have 
not had a line either from Gifford or the Bookseller since I 
came down, and as it is vulgarly said that proffered service 
is of an evil savour, sure am I that proffered advice is still 
less to be endured by human nostrils. After all, I believe 
che best way will be to advise with George Ellis, whose 
judgment and knowledge of mankind may find a remedy 
where perhaps I should only aggravate the evil. 

Would to heaven you were here or I were at Kokeby 
on this numerical summer's day. Ashestiel never looked 
so enchanting; the ground is quite enamelled with wild 
flowers, and all living things in such high spirits as to 
withdraw one involuntarily from thinking of all warfare 
and foemen, even from Bonaparte down to the Edin- 
burgh Reviewers. . . . 

And now, dear Morritt, let me claim from you your 
promise that I should have the Highland Tale for my 
next edition of the Minstrelsy. It is going to press in 
a few days, but as of course you will be placed among 
the Imitations you may take your own time for transcrip- 
tion and correction. 1 I wish you would also give me a 
sonnet for a certain pocket selection, — a minstrelsy which I 
picked out for my friend Ballantyne. 2 I think you will 

1 The Curse of Moy, by Mr. 2 The English Minstrelsy, in 

Morritt, appeared in the new edi- 2 vols. 12mo, was published in 
tion of the Border Minstrelsy. 1810. 



140 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [July 

like the choice of the ancient things, and I wanted to add 
a few modern pieces hactenus inedita. I intend to give 
him two or three trifles of my own, and to exercise all the 
interest I possess among my poetical friends. The work 
will make two beautifully printed pocket volumes. 

I have written a few lines to Lady Louisa to beg she will 
look in upon Ashes tiel on her journey to Bothwell. Do 
pray say the best you can for us ; we lie alike in the way. 

Charlotte joins in kindest love to Mrs. and Miss Morritt. 
I have not forgotten my promise about the pirates' ditty, 
though I have not yet had time enough to write it out. I 
hope Lady Hood, if she goes north, will come by Ashestiel. 
— Believe me, dear Morritt, ever yours in faith and sincerity 
while Walter Scott. 

TO LADY LOUISA STUART. 

Ashestiel, July 1809. 

As I find you are now at Rokeby on your way to 
Bothwell, will your Ladyship permit me to remind you 
that whether you seek Clydesdale by Peebles or by Edin- 
burgh, you must necessarily pass within a mile of this 
small farm, which will, without pretending to any great 
matters, rather furnish a better gite than any of the Inns 
on the road ; and the reckoning shall be that your Lady- 
ship puts up with your hard quarters for a day or two, and 
honours some of our wonders with a visit. I feel myself 
so assured that you will honour us so far that I will give 
you the carte du pays. 

If your Ladyship leaves Rokeby without making any 
visit in Cumberland, two days' easy travelling will bring 
your post-chaise to Ashestiel on the second evening. 
It is seven miles from Selkirk, and just so far on the 
road either to Edinburgh or to Bothwell. Elibank 
Castle has a claim on your Ladyship for the honour you 
have already done to the tale of Walter of Harden's wed- 



1809] TO LADY LOUISA STUART 141 

ding. 1 Newark and the braes of Yarrow are also worth 
seeing, even if the last were not classical ground in Scot- 
tish song. There is very little, or rather no chance of our 
being from home, but to make assurance doubly sure, a 
note addressed Ashestiel, by Selkirk, will apprise us when 
your Ladyship can grant our request. I need not, I am 
sure, say that Charlotte joins her respectful solicitations to 
mine, as well as in best love to Mr. and Mrs. Morritt. . . . 



TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Ashestiel, 8th August 1809. 

I do not know, my dear Lady Abercorn, how you are 
justified in your cruel treatment of me. It is now a very 
long time since I have heard from you, and I have written 
you two long epistles filled with all the news, good, bad, 
and indifferent, which I thought likely to interest you. I 
directed as usual under cover to the Marquis, so I think 
my letters cannot have miscarried, unless his Lordship has 
intercepted them for literary curiosities to be bound with 
his history of Reynard the Fox. Seriously, I hope my 
letter from town has reached you, for it was written by 
special command of Lady Maria, whom I had the pleasure 
to see several times during three months' abode in London. 
I was quite mortified that the Priory was untenanted, for I 
had a thousand things to tell your Ladyship, besides the 
delight of exchanging a lodging in Half Moon Street, 
Piccadilly, for the groves and glades of the Priory. We 
(for I was in the plural number, my wife and myself) 
saw enough of London gaiety to make us very glad to 
regain our own fireside, regretting nothing so much as 
not having had it in our power to make our devoirs to 
Lord and Lady Abercorn. 

I was several times at Kensington, where her R. H. 

1 See note, p. 137. 



142 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTEES [Aug. 

made several inquiries concerning your Ladyship, and was 
surprised that I could not satisfy them ; so this plucked 
another plume from my vanity. I also saw Lady Charlotte 
Lindsay repeatedly. 

We spent some days at Tunbridge with Sir Samuel and 
Lady Hood. Her Ladyship is my countrywoman, an 
enthusiastic Highlander, and deep in all manner of northern 
tradition. On my return I visited Knowle, 1 and saw a 
gallery which I admired more than all the fine collections 
I have seen in London. Your Ladyship is probably no 
stranger to it. It contains an amazing collection of ori- 
ginal portraits of eminent historical characters from the 
reign of Henry vn. downwards. 

Since your Ladyship has made so long stay in Ireland, 
I hope you don't propose to return before next summer, 
because I have very serious thoughts of visiting green 
Erin next year, with a view to make my edition of Swift as 
perfect, and as much worthy of the permission of inscribing 
it to Lord A. as I possibly can. I have been tolerably 
successful in some of my researches, and still hope I may 
add something to illustrate the works of so celebrated a 
classic. . . . 

Adieu, my dear Lady Abercorn, and pray write to me 
soon, were it only to say you have not quite forgot your 
very faithful and most respectful 

Walter Scott. 

to joanna baillie. 

Ashestiel, August 15, 1809. 

I have delay'd writing to you from day to day in 
hope of being able to report progress about the delightful 

1 Knole or Knowle, near Seven- her trusty minister the first Earl of 
oaks, Kent. This picturesque ex- Dorset, and after three centuries 
ample of a fine old English house, is still in possession of the Sack- 
covering five acres, is said to have villes. 
been given by Queen Elizabeth to 



1809] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 143 

' Legend ' more fully than I am even yet supplied with the 
means of doing. For indeed all I can say is that our 
manager, young Siddons, is delighted with the piece, and 
determined to bring it out with as much force as he can 
possibly muster ; but his wife and he went to perform at 
Manchester, and I left town before their return (if it has 
yet taken place), so that I really have not had opportunity 
to procure those practical remarks which I expect his 
experience may enable him to suggest. I am concerned 
at this, because, of course, the sooner you are possessed of 
them the more time you will have to consider any of them 
that may merit your attention. I have shewn the play to 
Erskine, 1 whose best pretension to such distinction, though 
he has many, is his early and decided preference of your 
dramatic works to all others of every age and country, 
Shakespeare himself hardly excepted. But neither from 
him have I got more than general and unqualified expres- 
sions of satisfaction and pleasure. As I did not get your 
letter till I was safely landed, I did not consult Mr. Mac- 
kenzie. 2 Indeed, I was willing to have young Siddons' 
remarks, which may be really of consequence, before those 
of any other person, and for that purpose intrusted him 
with the manuscript. Mr. Mackenzie is, however, a most 
excellent critic on dramatic composition, and shall be the 
first person to whom I show it so soon as I go to town. 
There is a point of some little consequence which has not 
occurred to your recollection, namely, how I am to arrange 
with Siddons about the profits of the piece, which, if the 
play succeeds (as it cannot chuse but succeed splendidly), 
must necessarily be an object of considerable importance; 
he expresses himself willing to pay a sum of money, which 
I declined for the present, referring myself to your future 
instructions. I believe it will be better to abide by the 

1 William Erskine, afterwards 2 Henry Mackenzie, author of 

Lord Kinedder. The Man of Feeling. 



144 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Aug. 

Author's rights, which, supposing the piece to run nine 
nights and so forth, cannot be less than about £300 or 
<£400. This is what I should prefer in my own case, 
because I should then, in any event, neither have to 
reproach myself with making a foolish bargain for myself 
nor with taking the Manager in by vain expectations. 
There is a circumstance rather favourable to the effect 
upon the stage arising from the contrast between the 
tartan worn by the Macleans, which has a red glaring 
effect, and that of the Campbells, which is dark green; 
thus the followers of the Chieftains will be at once dis- 
tinguished from each other. I think your answer to Lady 
Louisa's criticism upon Herbert's departure from the Castle 
is quite convincing. But as the objection staggered me a 
good deal, and may occur to others, you will perhaps think 
of adding a line or two stating, as an additional reason for 
his departure, that his friends had no occasion for his aid 
in prosecuting their revenge. He is a most delightful 
character, the most interesting stage lover I have the 
honour to be acquainted with, so we must leave no blot 
on his scutcheon, nor even the appearance of one. I fear 
all this while you have been thinking me little better than 
the " fause Sir John >n whom you previously intrusted with 
the Legend, but I hope soon to send } 7 ou all the remarks 
which can possibly occur as essential. Ballantyne the 
printer, whom I think you may have seen at my house, 
came here on Sunday last ; Siddons had shown him some 
parts of the MS., as they are on most intimate habits, 
and expressed himself even more warmly than to me on 
the subject. Now I like this excessively, for there is no 

1 In 1803 Sir John Sinclair re- this absurd proposal, the Family 

quested Joanna Baillie to write a Legend was written. — See Sir John's 

drama for a charitable purpose, at Correspondence, London, 1831, vol. i. 

the same time sending her a plan pp. 167-170, and present vol. pp. 

for one on The Fall of Darius ! 211-12. 
Curiously enough, in consequence of 



1809] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 145 

saying how far a real and warm interest in a part may 
warm even a very middling performance ; he has a bad 
way of planting his legs in attitudes which make me wish 
them broken on the wheel ; however, he is a good, worthy 
young man, and much of a gentleman. The theatre will, I 
think, be quite a Bijou; we supped in it as Corri's rooms 1 
on the night of the memorable Oxonian ball. It is in- 
tended to be only temporary, but I wish the trustees 
would buy it outright and fit it up as a permanent 
theatre, for I doubt our being able to raise £20,000 to 
build a new one, and between our pride and our poverty 
the scheme may be left in the same state as the new 
College. . . . — Believe me honoured in permission to 
subscribe myself your affectionate and unworthy brother 
in the Muse, Walter Scott. 

TO MORRITT. 

nth August 1809. 

... I have a letter from Gifford, the first time I have 
heard from him since I have left London. I really tremble 
for the fate of the Quarterly. Gifford is able and good- 
humoured, and most heartily zealous, and yet I fear he 
will not succeed in making a cake of the right leaven for 
the present generation. I will not take to the boat, how- 
ever, while the ship holds together, and so I will open on 
your friend Mrs. Montagu's Letters, 2 which are well worthy 
to be pelted out of the field. . . . 

I snap at your offer of the translations from Metastasio 
like a dog at a buttered crust. The version of Ti severvai 
di mi is exquisitely beautiful, but as beggars must not be 
chusers, I refer myself to the ladies to chuse which they 

1 The present Theatre at the 2 If Scott wrote an article on Mrs. 

head of Leith Walk is built on the Montagu's Letters it did not appear 

site of Corri's rooms, which were in the Quarterly, but the Second 

used by Siddons until March 1811, Series, published in 1813, was re- 

when he obtained possession of the viewed in No. 19. 
house in Shakspeare Square. 

VOL. I. K 



146 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [Sept. 

think will do the Miscellany most honour. There is a 
trifle I intend to send, — a pitiful sonnet wrote in former 
days to my mistress's eyebrow, or rather eyelid, after it 
had wept itself dry — 

" The violet in her summer bower, 

Where birchen boughs with hazels mingle, 

May boast herself the fairest flower 

In glen or copse or forest dingle." l 
etc. etc. . . . 

TO SOUTHEY. 

Ashestiel, 10th September 1809. 

Since I heard last from you I have been enjoying my- 
self al fresco on the banks of Loch Lomond, which (no 
offence) could put Derwentwater into its waistcoat-pocket. 
Moreover, I met with an old follower of Rob Roy, who had 
been at many a spreagh (foray) with that redoubted free- 
booter, and shewed me all his holds. On my return I found 
the enclosed from Ellis, which I think is worth the double 
postage which, failing a frank, it is like to cost you. He 
is an excellent and warm-hearted friend, and I long to 
make you acquainted side by side, as I believe three folks, 
even the three graces, cannot be said to meet face to face. 
When I see Geo. Canning and Geo. Ellis most anxious about 
the prosperity of Robert Southey, and remember former 
days, it reminds me of — 

Via salutis, 
Quod minime reris, Graia pandetur ab urbe. 2 

I am convined that what Swift said of Whig and 
Tory is true of most civil dissensions, and that the 
really honest only require to know each other's senti- 
ments to agree, while knaves and fools invent catch- 
words and shibboleths and war-cries to keep them from 
coming to a just understanding. I thought it by far the 

1 For the Poem complete, and its origin, see Lockhart's Life, vol. i. 
pp. 332-8. 2 Virgil's ^Eneid, vi. 96. 



1809] TO SOUTHEY 147 

best way in a negotiation of some delicacy, that Ellis 
and Canning should know your own precise statement of 
your views and politics, which strained through another 
medium than that of your own manly and independent 
expressions might have suffered in strength, spirit, and 
precision. I intend to answer Ellis, pressing the augmenta- 
tion of the pension as a mode of cutting short dependence. 
It may be resigned when the Historiographer's place 1 (for 
which you are so peculiarly fitted) shall open to you, or 
any preferment suitable to your wishes in emolument and 
in the nature of its duty. 2 You will see that Ellis agrees 
with you and me in Spanish matters. Alas, alas, an evil 
fate seems to arm the enemy with weapons not his own, 
and disconcert every effort in that glorious cause. God for 
his own wise ends has sent confusion into all councils that 
are formed against the destined scourge of his wrath, 
"appalTd the guilty and made mad the free." 3 How it is 
to end heaven knows ; I who am by nature no croaker 
hardly dare venture to conjecture. 

Don't tease yourself or Paternoster about the Morte 
d' Arthur, but take your own time. My idea was entirely 
different from yours, to reprint namely the whole from the 
only original Caxton which is extant, with all the super- 
stition and harlotrie which the castrator in the reign of 
Edward vi. chose to omit. A classic of Henry vn th ' s 
time is so valuable that I still think once you have been 
afloat for a year or two, I will give a very limited edition 

1 Louis Dutens, who died in 1812, through Ellis and Scott. They do 
was historiographer to King George him credit, because my opinions 
in. The office appears then to are pretty well known, and if they 
have been given to the Rev. J. S. have done me no good, that is not 
Clarke. his fault, as he has no longer the 

2 In allusion to this remark, Sou- power of redeeming them. I asked 
they says, in a letter to Walter to be made historiographer." — 
Savage Landor : "About two Southey, Selections, vol. ii. p. 167. 
months ago some offers of service 3 " Make mad the guilty and appal 
were made to me by Canning, the free." — Hamlet, Act ii. Sc. 2. 



148 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Sept. 

of Sir Thomas Malory in his native dress. But this is a 
distant vision. 

I like your missionary article exceedingly, and I think 
you will join with me in admiring the beautiful conclusion 
of the last Review on Spanish affairs. But we must have 
a little fun in our next, for which purpose I intend to play 
football with Mrs. Montagu's Letters. 1 I think Lord 
Valentia is rather unfair to Bruce; 2 I know that surly 
Patagonian, and though he may have romanced in matters 
where his own prowess was concerned, yet I think no one 
could ever have described the battles of Serbraxos and 
the strange dispersion which afterwards took place, without 
having seen it. Gen 1 Murray saw two Abyssinians in 
Upper Egypt at the time of the Indian army's being there, 
the elder of whom remembered Bruce as the commander 
of the Koscob Horse, and he remarked that although they 
did not always immediately recollect circumstances men- 
tioned by the traveller, yet such frequently recurred to 
their recollection, with all their particulars, a day or two 
afterwards. I therefore think the negative evidence as to 
his warlike and princely character good for little. Even 
with our newspapers and gazettes, who pretends to re- 
member all who have been made peers and knighted ; and 
as for fighting, a prince who left Bruce at home, if he could 
have brought him out, neglected the most able-bodied 
associate you ever saw. Pendragon was a joke to him in 
size and muscle. 

By the way, Ellis fixes on me an article about Miss 
Edgeworth's Tales, which I never saw ; I have nothing in 
the last Review ; yours ever, Walter Scott. 

1 See note, p. 145. questioned the truth of some of 

2 In the third number of the the statements made by Bruce re- 
Quarterly Southey had two papers garding Abyssinia. Southey agreed 
— one on South Sea missions, the with Lord Valentia, but the truth- 
other an elaborate account of the fulness of the great traveller has 
travels of Lord Valentia, who since been fully vindicated. 



1809] TO LADY ABERCOKN 149 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Ashestiel, 14th September 1809. 

Your valued token of remembrance, my dear Lady 
Marchioness, found me a traveller in the skirts of our 
Highlands, and consequently did not receive quite so early 
an acknowledgment as if I had been quiet at home. I 
had promised to meet the Judge of Admiralty, Sir William 
Scott, near Loch Lomond, but behold he received an ex- 
press announcing his lady's sudden decease. . . . 

The sight of our beautiful mountains and lakes (though 
not new to me), and your Ladyship's kind exhortations, 
have set me to threading verses together, with what 
success I am yet uncertain; but if I am not able to 
please myself at all, it is but a step to the fireside, and 
the poem will go into smoke, like half the projects of 
this world. Then, says caution, you hazard any little 
credit you have acquired, and may disgrace the good 
opinion of your friends by venturing again on the public 
arena; to which resolution replies, in the words of the 
great Marquis of Montrose — 

" He either fears his fate too much, 
Or his deserts are small ; 
Who dares not put it to the touch 
To win or lose it all." 

The worst is, I am not very good or patient in slow 
and careful composition, and sometimes remind myself of 
a drunken man who could run long after he could not 
walk. I must however invoke the assistance of my 
friendly critics, and particularly of the Marquis, when my 
manuscript is in such forwardness as to admit of its being 
presented for his inspection. Your Ladyship will recollect 
that he is to have an interest in it as patron in case it 
succeeds, so it will be for his Lordship's credit that as 
few errors remain in it as possible. . . . 



150 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Sept. 

I saw the Princess several times when in London. 
She was in the highest possible spirits, and very witty 
and entertaining. Lewis 1 was of all her parties, an 
acquaintance which her Royal Highness had acquired 
when I was in London. Of course I was only a second- 
rate conjuror, but did rny best to amuse her. The P[rince] 
did me the honour to speak of me in terms of consider- 
able bitterness before I came up to town, so I have no 
chance of being the Poet Laureate of the next reign. It 
is curious how every word of such a personage is caught 
up and repeated to those whom it concerns; a cir- 
cumstance that ought to make them peculiarly cautious, 
for although few people can do them real service, the 
meanest have it often in their power to do them essential 
injury. But I can never wish his father's son and the 
heir of the Crown otherwise than well, and am as safe in 
my obscurity from the effects of his prejudice as a worm 
beneath a stone from the foot of Goliath of Gath. 

The Duchess of Gordon is at Kinrara, her Highland 
farm, where I have heard she shows to greater advantage 
than anywhere, being more sedate and less overpowering. 
I daresay she cares very little about the issue of her 
Caro sposo's affair. 2 ... I saw him in Edinburgh in sum- 
mer, and it seemed to sit very light on his spirits. I spent 
two days at the Duke of Montrose's seat near Loch 
Lomond very pleasantly, the more so as Lady Douglas 
and Lady Louisa Stuart (Lord Bute's sister), both my 
special cronies, were in the house. We went daily on the 
lake in a very nice boat, with ten Highland rowers, " all 
plaided and plumed in their tartan array," and visited 
every island that was interesting. 



1 Matthew Gregory Lewis, Scott's ultimately came before the King's 
old friend in the " Tales of Terror " Bench, Dec. 7, 1809. The Duke 
days. Lewis died in 1818. was acquitted. 

2 An unpleasant charge which 



1809] TO LADY ABEECOKN 151 

I will endeavour if possible to come to Ireland before 
your Ladyship leaves it. The business of the Judicature 
Commission may indeed stop me, or perhaps the whole 
before that time may have passed into other hands, and 
I shall be a gentleman at large. — I ever am, dear Lady 
Abercorn, your much obliged, very faithful, humble 
servant, Walter Scott. 

FROM ROBERT SURTEES. 

I have only one record to offer of the appearance of our 
Northumbrian Duergar. 1 My narratrix is Elizabeth Cock- 
burn, an old wife of Offerton in this county, whose credit 
in a case of this kind will not, I hope, be much impeached 
when I add that she is, by her dull neighbours, supposed 
to be occasionally insane; but by herself to be at those 
times endowed with a faculty of seeing visions and 
spectral appearances which shun the common ken. In 
the year before the great rebellion two young men from 
Newcastle were sporting on the high moors above Elsdon, 
and after pursuing their game several hours, sat down to 
dine in a green glen, near one of the mountain streams. 
x\fter their repast, the younger lad ran to the brook for 
water ; and after stooping to drink, was surprised on lift- 
ing his head again by the appearance of a brown dwarf, 2 
who stood on a crag covered with bracken, across the burn. 
This extraordinary personage did not appear to be above 
half the stature of a common man, but was uncommonly 
stout and broad built, having the appearance of vast 
strength. His dress was entirely brown, the colour of the 
brackens, and his head covered with frizzled red hair ! his 

1 Duerwe, Duergh, Droich, etc. superstition, see Forest Sketches, 
etc., a term for dwarf. — See Jamie- Edinburgh, 1865 (written by William 
son. Robertson, Sheriff-Substitute at 

2 " The Brown man of the moor that Tobermory), the grim story of the 

sta y s Gillie and the "Protector of the 

Beneath the heather bell." -p. „ 

For a further illustration of this 



152 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [1809 

countenance was expressive of the most savage ferocity, 
and his eyes glared like a bull. 

It seems he addressed the young man, first threatening 
him with his vengeance for having trespassed on his 
demesnes, and asking him if he knew in whose presence 
he stood. The youth replied that he supposed him to 
be Lord of the Moors; that he had offended through 
ignorance, and offered to bring him the game he had 
killed. The dwarf was a little mollified by this submis- 
sion, but remarked that nothing could be more offensive 
to him than such an offer, as he considered the wild 
animals as his subjects, and never failed to avenge their 
destruction. He condescended further to inform him that 
he was, like himself, mortal, though of years far exceeding 
the lot of common humanity, and (what I should not have 
an idea of) that he hoped for salvation. He never, he 
added, fed on anything that had life, but lived in the 
summer on whortle-berries, and in the winter on nuts and 
apples, of which he had great store in the woods. 

Finally he invited his new acquaintance to accompany 
him home, and partake his hospitality, an offer which the 
youth was on the point of accepting, and was just going 
to spring across the brook (which, if he had done, says 
Elizabeth, the dwarf would certainly have torn him in 
pieces) when his foot was arrested by the voice of his 
companion, who thought he tarried long, and on looking 
around again " the wee brown man was fled." The story 
adds, he was imprudent enough to slight the admonition 
and to sport over the moors on his way homewards ; but 
soon after his return he fell into a lingering disorder and 
died within the year. 

TO ROBERT SURTEES. 

. . . Your brown man of the Muirs is a noble fellow. 
He has been brooding in my brain this many a day, and is, 



1809] TO SUETEES 153 

I think, the genuine descendant of the ancient Duergar. 
I hope soon to show you something of him in romantic 
poetry. . . . 

The story of Barthram put me in mind of a little 
incident I met with many years ago, riding out of 
Liddesdale into Teviotdale. There were then no roads of 
any kind in that direction, so to avoid the bogs we kept 
upon the banks of a little brook, which acted as a drain to 
the springy morasses, and now and then afforded a little 
recess in which its waters wimpled under birches and 
alders, and its banks formed a narrow and retired glen. 

In one of these we found a small stone cross lying 
among the grass and heather. It was thrown down from 
its pedestal, but not broken, and bore a broad sword and 
a pair of wool shears. On the opposite side were two 
initial letters and two others lower down. The monument 
was obviously sepulchral ; it was so small that with the 
united strength of a friend and of my servant I easily 
set it on end, where it may stand for aught I know to 
this moment. We could hear no tradition about the 
place, probably because we did not light upon those who 
could have answered our inquiries. As the spot is not 
two miles distant from the Chapel of Hermitage Castle, 
it seems probable the place of sepulture was chosen from 
some reason similar to that which occurs in the ballad 
of Bartram. . . . 1 

TO LADY LOUISA STUART. 

Ashestiel, 7th November [1809]. 

... I have not been quite idle, though I don't know if 
your Ladyship will think I have been employed to good 
purpose when I tell you I have made great progress in the 

1 This accidental discovery of the letters see pp. 81, 82, 94-5, Memoir 

stone cross made Scott more easily of Robert Surtees, Surtees Society, 

deceived in the genuineness of 1852. 
Bartram's Dirge. For complete 



154 SCOTT'S FAMILIAK LETTERS [Dec. 

romance I showed you at Buchanan. It is against all my 
vows to write poetry again, but I hope the perjuries of 
bards are as venial as those of lovers are said to be. After 
all, how can I employ my time ? My family have some 
claims on my talent, or half talent or whatever it is, for it 
laid me on the shelf as a professional man, when I had as 
good prospects as my neighbours. And here I have a 
reversionary office saddled with the life-rent of an old 
gentleman who has learned Comte de Grammont's art 
d'eterniser sa vie. ... So upon the whole I will go on 
with my Lady of the Lake, and tell my prudence she is no 
better than indolence in disguise. . . . 

TO MRS. THOMAS SCOTT. 1 

Dec. 27, 1809. 
The death of poor Miss Hume has shocked my mother 

less than I anticipated ; old age is fortunate, if not in decay 

of sensibility, at least in the increase of patience under 

these afflictions, and Miss Hume's, notwithstanding her 

great age, was so long, lingering, and painful, that we 

all regarded her death as a release. I take the liberty to 

enclose a bill for a small sum which I hope you will 

consider as a Christmas gift to little Walter, 2 to whom 

pray make my compliments. . . . 

The Christmas parties go on as usual, and " commerce " 

takes its nightly round without mercy. I would to heaven 

Bonaparte would include that most stupid game in his 

anti-commercial edicts. I am glad to hear my little 

nephew takes so kindly to the church. What do you 

think to make an English parson of him ? it is a line in 

1 Mr. Lockhart in his abridged known. She had a motherly 

edition of the Life, published in affection for all Sir Walter's family, 

August 1848, has this tribute to the and she survived them all. She 

memory of his wife's aunt : — died at Canterbury in April 1848, 

"Mrs. Thomas Scott, Miss aged 72."— P. 110. 
Macculloch of Ardwell, was one of 

the best and wisest and most 2 " Little Walter " of the Journal, 

agreeable women I have ever afterwards General Scott. 



1809] TO MRS. THOMAS SCOTT 155 

which if I live I might do him good service, and he might 
come to be Bishop of Sodor and Man. If I do not go to 
London in spring I shall be tempted to go to Ireland, 
taking your Islet in my way, and will borrow Walter's 
pony to see your wonders. My Walter is at the High 
School, and I condescend to hear him his lessons every 
day. Poor old Dr. Adam died last week after a very short 
illness, which first affected him in school. He was light- 
headed, and continued to speak as in the class until the 
very last, when, having been silent for many hours, he said, 
" That Horace was very well said ; you did not do it so 
well," then added faintly, " But it grows dark, very dark, 
the boys may dismiss" and with these striking words he 
expired. He is to be buried on Friday, the classes attending 
under their masters. It will be very difficult to fill up his 
situation. . . . x 

TO LADY ABEKCORN. 

Edinr., Z\st December 1809. 

. . . And now as to my own occupation, which for 
this month past has been incessant. The Commissioners 
under the King's warrant for reporting upon alterations 
in the Scottish Judicature have, like every other body 
that I know, left all their work to be done just at the 
time they were called upon to make their report ; so now 
we have to work very hard, and the poor Secretary has 
hardly a moment to call his own from nine in the 
morning till the same hour at night. But I expect it 
will be all over in the course of a few weeks, and that I 
shall have time to renew my literary labours. 

I have made considerable progress in a new poem, 
which I intend to call The Lady of the Lake. The scene 

1 Alexander Adam, the learned is now one of the ornaments of the 

author of Roman Antiquities, etc. National Portrait Gallery, Edin- 

A fine portrait of this born teacher burgh, 
and amiable gentleman, by Raeburn, 



156 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 

is laid in the Perthshire Highlands, which after all present 
the finest part of our mountain prospects. I have taken 
considerable pains on what I have written, and shall be 
anxious to solicit Lord Abercorn's opinion upon it, 
because, should it be honoured with his approbation, I 
hope he will permit me to inscribe it to him. 

Pray, does your Ladyship know Lord Clarendon? I 
ask this question because he has volunteered a correspond- 
ence with me in a manner very flattering to my vanity, 
so that I am a little curious with respect to him. I don't 
think I ever heard of him about town, and I have an 
idea that he is in his domestic habits extremely retired. 
But all this perhaps your Ladyship can tell me. 

What do you think of this new sort of amusement 
that the public have found for themselves at Covent 
Garden ? I hate mobs of all kinds, but I fear disciplined 
mobs, especially with such leaders as Clifford? who has 
just knowledge enough to keep him within the verge of 
law, talent enough to do mischief, and no capacity what- 
ever to do the least good. I pity poor John Kemble and 
his little wife, whom I met at the Priory. Yet they 
played their cards ill in attempting to bully the audience. 
I am not a believer in the continuance of the truce : the 
love of frolic will revive on the slightest provocation, and 
there are so many people who can sound horns and dance 
upon benches that such provocation will be taken whether 
it be given or no. 

Perhaps 1 am a little too gloomy upon so foolish a topic, 
but I think the whole scene is a public and general dis- 
grace to the country. Neither am I greatly delighted 
with the present prospect into the interior of the cabinet, 

1 Mr. Clifford, a London barrister, by the prices of admission to the 

who took a leading part in the so newly reconstructed Theatre being 

called "O.P. [old-price] Riots," raised. — See Covent Garden Journal, 

which continued from Sept. to 2 vols. Svo, 1809. 
Dec. — 67 nights — and were caused 



1809] TO LADY ABERCORN 157 

which reminds me of that which presented itself to a wise 
man of Gotham, who, carrying half-a-dozen game-cocks to 
the place where a main was to be fought, shut them up in 
the same coop, and was surprised to find that they had 
fought and killed each other, because he thought they 
should have known that they were all on the same side. 
Canning is, I fear, lost irrecoverably to Government, and 
it will be difficult to keep ground in the House of Com- 
mons without him. He sometimes writes to me, and you 
would laugh to see how frankly I offer my advice to him 
in return, stoutly exhorting adherence to his old friends. 

The Duchess of Gordon stayed here a day or two on 
her road to Ireland, and gave a grand party to all the world, 
which Charlotte and I attended. I rather wonder that 
your viceroy 1 has not contrived to parry this visitation 
from la chere maman. She is not, begging her Grace's 
pardon, altogether that conciliatory sort of person that is 
best calculated to endure, and to restrain and to mitigate, 
all the little heart-burnings which must arise in every 
court whether regal or vice-regal. 

So you did not keep my friend Robert Dundas 2 with 
you, which I cannot but say I rejoice at. His effectual 
interest must be in Scotland, and no one can carry Scot- 
land that has not the command of the Board of Control, 
which is in a manner the key of the corn- chest ; for your 
Ladyship knows all our live articles of exportation are our 
black-cattle and our children, and though England 
furnishes a demand for our quadrupeds, we are forced to 
send our bipeds as far as Bengal. . . . 

FROM LORD MINTO. 3 

I am particularly happy in having fixed Leyden by 

1 Charles, 4th Duke of Richmond, Lieutenant on April 13, but in the 
was Lord Lieutenant at this date. following November he was again 

2 The Hon. Robert Dundas was President of the Board of Control, 
appointed Secretary to the Lord 3 This extract from a letter which 



158 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 1809 

my side, and am enjoying with equal admiration, though of 
different kinds, his extraordinary talents and his spirited, 
independent, and estimable character. I have taken the 
best care I can of his fortunes, and hope one day to see 
his wandering staff planted in some Teviot haugh, and the 
wanderer himself under its shade resting in his age 
amongst the "Scenes of Infancy." Those scenes are the 
object of both our longings, I may safely say at least of 
mine, though it is not wise to strain either eyes or wishes at 
distant prospects. I shall hope to find you still haunting 
and singing those streams which are to me more sacred 
than the waters of the Ganges to their Hindoo votaries." . . . 

reached Scott in the course of the Governor- General had recognised 
year 1809, shows how soon after Leyden's genius and capacity for 
Lord Minto's arrival in India the work. — Ante, p. 38. 



CHAPTER VI 

1810 

EDINBURGH AND ASHESTIEL 



" Dry up those tears," the gentlw wizard cried, 

" Nor weep while nature in hear glory smiles ! :1 
And lo ! with sylvan mountains beautified, 

Incumbent cliffs, lone bays, and fairy isles, 
Floated a lake that I could scarce behold, 

So bright it gleam'd with its enchanted waves ! 
While ever and anon wild music roll'd 

From fractured rocks, and undiscover'd caves, 
As if some spirit warbled from the steep 

A low unearthly song, to charm the lake to sleep. 

The Magic Mirror, by John Wilson. 



FAMILY ANNALS AND LITERARY WORK 



1810— AGE 3< 



Joanna Baillie's Family Legend on the 
Edinburgh Stage, January. 

Parliamentary Commission on Scotch Judi- 
cature dissolved, Spring. 

Lady of the Lake published in 4to by Bal- 
lantyne & Co. , May. 

English Minstrelsy, 2 vols. 12mo, by Bal- 
lantyne & Co. 



Visit to the Highlands and Islands with 

wife and daughter, June. 
Miss Seward's Life and Poetical Works, 3 

vols, post 8vo, published by Ballantyne, 

August. 
Contributions to Quarterly Review- 
Fatal Revenge ) in No< Q> May ma 
Evans' Old Ballads > 



CHAPTER VI 



FROM LEYDEN. 1 

Calcutta, January 10th, 1810. 
My dearest Friend, — It is not my intention to write 
you a letter at present, but merely a note to accompany 
a Dissertation on the Chinese language by Mr. Marshman, 
one of the missionaries of Serampore. This Dissertation 
is properly speaking only the preface of the first volume 
of Confucius in Chinese and English, printed at Seram- 
pore under the patronage of Lord Minto. As I had some 
effect in getting the work set afoot here while the mis- 
sionaries were rather under a cloud, and not countenanced 
in any shape previous to his Lordship's arrival, they have 
requested me to make the work known to my literary 
friends at home, and I have of course forwarded this to 
you with the author's regards. The first volume of Con- 
fucius will follow in the next ship, and you will receive 
it before it is published in England. Lord Minto has 
gained himself immortal glory here by patronising with 
energy every useful species of literature, and is generally 
admitted to be the finest private character of a Governor 
that ever India saw. He is at present at Madras, where 
he has been for these ^ve months, and where a very 
dangerous insurrection had very nearly broke out through 
the whole army, occasioned chiefly by the striking dispro- 
portion between civil and military employments. He has 
had a most delicate office to perform, and I am glad he 
has got so well through it. But to return to the Chinese 

1 The only letter from Leyden to in India preserved in the Abbots- 
Scott after the arrival of the former ford collection. 

VOL. L L 



162 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Jan. 

Dissertation, which in my opinion is a very excellent one, 
I am anxious you should make it known among your 
literary friends ; and if, as report says, you have any con- 
nection with the Quarterly Review, which has shown itself 
favourable to the missionaries, you cannot have a finer 
field for animadversion. The coincidence of the Chinese 
arrangement of sounds with the order of the Sanscrit 
alphabet is [not] a new discovery, but only an elucidation of 
De Guignes' Memoires in the volumes (about the 30-35) 
of the Royal Academy. 1 This, however, will be merely as 
it suits your convenience. 

Your Marmion is quite the rage here, and it is very 
dubious whether that or the Lay of the Last Minstrel is 
most so. He is a sad dog, this same Marmion ; I have had 
the greatest difficulty in reconciling myself to him, and I 
am rather inclined to prefer old Bethlem Gabor after all, but 
I am nevertheless highly delighted with the work, though 
I have been wishing the hero hanged every step that he has 
taken from the beginning to the close. I most sincerely re- 
joice in seeing you very decidedly at the head of the poets 
of the age — poetarum, saecli tui princeps — which I think 
cannot now be denied, and, depend on it, none less than 
another Homer or Milton will shake you on your throne. 

Brigadier-General Malcolm, whom I formerly men- 
tioned from Eskdale, has you constantly under his pillow, 
and we rejoice over you like an ancient when a few of us 
Borderers can get together. He is gone to Persia to 
undo all the previous doings of that blockhead Sir Harford 
Jones. Now for myself, you will ask what the deuce I am 
about. Why, after enacting 'Belted Will ' in November and 
December of 1808, 2 as I could not quite employ Jedburgh 

1 Academie des Sciences, tome popular account of Leyden's work 
xxxiv. in India, see an elaborate and 

judicious paper written by Dr. 

2 As commissioner for the sup- George Smith, C.I.E., in the Com- 
pression of Dacoity. For the only cutta Review, vol. xxxi. 



1810] FEOM LEYDEN 163 

Justice, nearly a year has been taken up in trials, which 
have plagued me a great deal ; but my judicial duties are 
not nearly so laborious as I found my magisterial, and I 
have been digging away like a Turkish galley-slave in the 
Oriental mines. However, I hope to get through some day, 
and I have made great progression in a history of Persian 
poetry, which will be at least two 4tos, if published ; but 
really I am to be pitied as a slave more than any man in 
Frangistan, — I beg pardon, I meant Europe — for almost 
every instant of my time is filled up in task work. I had 
hoped that Colonel Kichardson, a particular friend, would 
have before this given you a particular account of all my 
proceedings and feats, but I greatly fear he has finished 
his career, as well as the rest of the passengers in the 
missing ships, — and there withal goes to the devil all 
my precious and never enough to be regretted mss. that 
had been transcribing for you and Heber for a year and 
more. My health is quite re-established, however, and 
I shall exert myself vigorously. But I am getting into 
a letter instead of a mere note (with a parcel). It is im- 
possible, however, not to beg to be remembered to my 
dear Mrs. Scott, and the fact is that the Lasswade Cottage, 
the blazing ingle, etc., still recur as the happiest scenes of 
my youth. God bless you and your family, my dearest 
Scott, and reckon me ever yours, John Leyden. 1 

1 The following extract from a it completely his own, and it is all 
letter addressed to his wife by ready money. All his talent and 
Lord Minto, written while on the labour, indeed, which are both ex- 
expedition which was to be so fatal cessive, could not, however, have 
to Leyden, may be introduced accumulated such stores without his 
here. See note, ante, p. 18 : — extraordinary memory. I begin, I 

"Modeste, at sea, May 1811.— fear, to look at that faculty with 
Dr. Leyden's learning is stupen- increasing wonder ; I hope without 
dous, and he is also a very universal envy, but something like one's ad- 
scholar. His knowledge, extensive miration of young eyes. It must 
and minute as it is, is always in his be confessed that Leyden has oc- 
pocket, at his fingers' ends, and on casion for all the stores which 
the tip of his tongue. He has made application and memory can fur- 



164 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Jan. 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Edinburgh, 21st January 1810. 

My dear Lady and Friend, — I was honoured two 
days ago with your kind token of remembrance enclosing 
Miss Owenson's 1 very pretty verses, to which I pay the 
highest compliment in admitting them to be worthy 
of the subject. I beg you will let Miss Owenson know 
with my respectful compliments that I did not write, 
and have scarcely even read, the review of Ida of 
Athens. My time has been indeed so very much occu- 
pied, that though a great admirer of novels, I have not 
perused one for many months ; but I am sure that the 
authoress of the c Irish Girl ' can produce nothing deserving 
of severe criticism, and still more certain that no motive 
would have prevailed on me to give pain to female genius 
for the sake of showing my own supposed wit. The few 
essays T have made in the craft of reviewing are either 

nish, to supply his tongue, which his honour that he has as intimate 
would dissipate a common stock in and profound a knowledge of the 
a week. I do not believe that so geography, history, mutual rela- 
great a reader was ever so great a tions, religion, character, and man- 
talker before. You may be con- ners of every tribe in Asia, as he 
ceited about yourselves, my beauti- has of their language. On the pre- 
ful wife and daughters, but with sent occasion there is not an island 
all my partiality I must give it or petty state in the multitude of 
against you. You would appear islands and nations amongst which 
absolutely silent in his company, we are going, of which he has not a 
as a ship under weigh seems at tolerably minute and correct know- 
anchor, when it is passed by a ledge." — Letters of Gilbert Elliot, 
swifter sailer. Another feature of 1807-1814, pp. 253-255. 
his conversation is a shrill, pierc- 
ing, and at the same time grating a Sydney Owenson, author of the 
voice. A frigate is not near large Wild Irish Girl, etc. , better known 
enough to place the ear at the as Lady Morgan. She was visiting 
proper point of hearing. If he had Lady Abercorn at Barons Court 
been at Babel he would infallibly about this time, where she met Sir 
have learned all the languages Charles Morgan, whose wife she 
there, but in the end they must all became in 1812. The article on Ida 
have merged in the Tividale How, of Athens in the first number of the 
for not a creature would have got Quarterly was understood to be 
spoken but himself. I must say to from the pen of Gifford. 



1810] TO LADY ABERCOKN 165 

of a grave cast or refer to books which I could conscien- 
tiously praise. There are I think in the Quarterly Review 
only two exceptions. In the one case I was provoked by the 
insufferable petulance of the author, and in the other by the 
extreme want of candour of a certain author who, having 
loaded me in private with undesired and undesirable 
flattery, chose to abuse me without temptation or provoca- 
tion in his next book. The worst of being supposed to 
review at all is that you get the reputation of writing a 
great number of articles which you have never even read, 
much less written. 

Lord Melville left this country about the beginning of 
last month in high health and spirits : indeed, I have not 
seen him looking better for a long time, and as he practises 
the abstinence recommended, I hope he will enjoy a con- 
firmed state of health for many years. I suspect he will go 
against the Ministry, at least not with them, in the stormy 
debates which are just approaching. 1 I grieve for it, and 
wish our friends on all sides would recollect the fable of the 
bundle of arrows which were so easily broken singly. 

Perhaps we would [not] quite agree on the subject of 
George Canning, with whom I have been for years a good 
deal lie; but I think there would be no great difference 
between us. The want of Pitt's commanding genius is feel- 
ingly displayed by this wretched and impolitic squabbling 
among his friends. 

You bid me, my dear friend, write "verses for you and on 
friendship. Alas, I am scarcely at this moment fit to write 
verses for the Bellman's Christmas box. Above "Good 
morrow my Masters all, and a merry Christmas to you," 
I am sure I could not soar. 

The pressure of the Commission business has been so 
constant, the meetings generally sitting from twelve til! 
five, and the rest of my time spent in making up Minutes, 

1 Perceval's Administration had just been formed. 



166 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Jan. 

Reports, and other official duty, that I have never had a 
moment to put on my cap and bells. The enclosed 
jangling verses are the only effort I have made in rhyme 
since I came to Edinburgh for the winter. They were 
written within this hour, and are to be spoken to a beauti- 
ful tragedy of Joanna Baillie (authoress of the Plays on 
the Passions) founded upon a Highland story of the Old 
Time. 1 I am much interested in its success, as she in- 
trusted the ms. with me. The principal female part is very 
prettily rehearsed by Mrs. Henry Siddons, our Manager's 
better half. Harry Mackenzie, author of The Man of 
Feeling, writes an epilogue ; so the piece, being entirely of 
Scotch manufacture, has, independent of its own merit, 
every chance of succeeding before a national audience. The 
day of trial is to-morrow. I want to send your Ladyship 
two little trumpery volumes of Miscellanies containing 
some scraps of my own, with others better worthy of your 
perusal, 2 which I begged and borrowed from some friends. 

It is true my new ditty is sold, but the price is two 
thousand guineas, not pounds. 3 When I was fond of 
horses I learned from the jockey to sell by guineas and 
buy by pounds. It is a comfortable reflection that should 
the Whigs come in to-morrow, their gall and bitterness will 
be of little consequence to me. I have nothing fortunately 
which they can take away, and am able by the liberality of 
the public to wait calmly until I come to possession of my 
official income, which I believe will amount to £1100 a 
year. 

I am very anxious the said poem should be such as 
Lord Abercorn can stand godfather to with credit. The 
tale cannot be very well sent without the verses, being 

1 The Family Legend — See 3 Lady Abercorn had written, 
Scott's Poetical Works, vol. viii. "What do you get for it? The 
p. 387. Irish papers say £2000 ! which I 

2 English Minstrelsy, 2 vols. hope is true." 



1810] TO LADY ABEKCOKN 167 

no great matter in itself; but I will soon send you a 
specimen, if not a whole canto. I have tried, according to 
promise, to make " a knight of love who never broke a 
vow." But well-a-day, though I have succeeded tolerably 
with the damsel, my lover, spite of my best exertions, is 
like to turn out what the players call a walking gentleman. 
It is incredible the pains it has cost me to give him a little 
dignity. Notwithstanding this, I have had in my time 
melancholy cause to paint from experience, for I gained 
no advantage from three years' constancy, except the said 
experience and some advantage to my conversation and 
manners. Mrs. Scott's match and mine was of our own 
making, and proceeded from the most sincere affection on 
both sides, which has rather increased than diminished 
during twelve years' marriage. But it was something short 
of love in all its forms, which I suspect people only feel 
once in their lives ; folks who have been nearly drowned 
in bathing rarely venturing a second time out of their 
depth. Excuse this long and tedious prattle, and believe 
me, with respectful compliments to the Marquis, dear 
Lady Abercorn, your obliged and faithful humble servant, 

Walter Scott. 

to joanna baillie. 

Edinburgh, February 6th, 1810. 

I write these few lines to inform you that your laurels 
flourish in all their original verdure. Through this whole 
week the theatre has been fully attended, and by all the 
fashionable people in town ; on Saturday in particular the 
house was as full as on Monday, — fuller was impossible, — 
and the most enthusiastic approbation was express'd in 
every quarter. All this while the Legend has been the 
only subject of town- talk, where praise and censure were 
of course mingled. The weight of criticism falls on the 



168 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTEES [March 

head of Duart, and I observe that the fair critics in general 
think that he gives up the lady too easily. I begin 
heartily to wish that the play was printed, unless you think 
of bringing it out in London, and printed as you wrote it. 
If you think of this, you should only part with the pro- 
perty of a single edition, that you may afterwards include 
it in your works ; my reasons are that the characters of 
Benlora, and especially Lochtarish, are so defaced by action 
that it is impossible to suppose their having the necessary 
influence upon Maclean's mind. Suppose we had never 
read Othello in our closet and saw lago represented by a 
very bad actor, I suspect the same criticism would pre- 
cisely apply. Yesterday I went with all my little folks, 
who were delighted, and cried like any little pigs over 
Helen's distress. . . . 

Did I tell you that " Argyle " made a formal complaint 
of the flatness, as he supposed, of his exit on one occasion, 
and that I was obliged to indulge him by putting a cracker 
to the end of his squib, that he might go off upon the 
grand pas ; he plays the character very well indeed. Mrs. 
Scott joins me in kindest remembrances to all. — Always, 
dear Madam, yours most faithfully and respectfully, 

Walter Scott. 

The newspaper was not worth sending ; Mrs. President 
Blair has requested the Legend for next Saturday ; a large 
house is expected. I don't know what to say about altera- 
tions; I should like to see it printed from the original 
draught. 1 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Uth March 1810. 

. . . Let me add how desirous I am your Ladyship 
should think well of these minstrel stanzas. The deuce 

1 Joanna Baillie's Family Legend printed from the MS. as originally 
was published in March 1810, written. 



1810] TO LADY ABERCORN 169 

take my lover, — I can make nothing of him; he is a 
perfect automaton. It is very odd that the border blood 
seems to rise in my veins whenever I begin to try couplets, 
however torpid on other occasions. I am in my own 
person, as Hamlet says, indifferent honest, and a robber or 
captain of banditti never comes across me but he becomes 
my hero. I believe, had I been to write Gil Bias, Captain 
Rolando would have been the principal personage from 
beginning to end. But we are all as heaven made us, and 
if I come to see you in Ireland I will endeavour to avoid 
temptation, and not to become a leader of robbers in the 
Wicklow mountains, which I have a notion must be one of 
the most diverting preferments in the world. You will see 
what has led to this rhapsody, if the verses have reached 
you, for Black Sir Roderick, the leader of a predatory clan 
of Highlanders, is in danger, despite all my resolutions to 
the contrary, of becoming the very chief of the story. 

You did not tell me if you exculpated me to your " wild 
Irish girl." Surely my apology was satisfactory. . . . 



TO THE SAME. 

Edinburgh, I4.th April 1810. 

My dear Lady Abercorn, — I would long since have 
written to your Ladyship to thank you for all your kindness 
in my behalf, and to express how much I am pleased that 
Lord Abercorn, to whom I am about to write a few lines, 
likes his literary protege. I am about to enclose the 3d and 
4th cantos of the poem to Croker for a frank ; the 5th is 
going through the press, and so soon as the 6th is achieved 
you shall have it all. It is, I think, in point of interest of 
story, the best of my efforts, and I hope will meet its share 
of public favour. I like the 4th canto myself, and hope 
your Ladyship will like it for my sake. 

We have been in a terrible state for this fortnight past 



170 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [April 

— three of my children at once ill of a dangerous and 
inflammatory fever, brought on by the inauspicious weather 
with which we have been visited this spring. . . . 

I must have expressed myself very ill to lead your 
Ladyship to think I had any complaint to make of Lord 
Melville. He has always been my kind, generous, and ready 
friend, nor doubt I in the least that I shall always find 
him so, as I have never remarked abatement in his kind- 
ness, and I am sure have never done anything to deserve 
it. I think while they were making so many alterations in 
the court here, they might have invalided my senior and 
cash-drawer. The Chief Baron, Lord Melville's nephew, as 
well as the late President, and several others of our Scotch 
Commission were desirous that it should have been done. 
By granting a man of seventy-five a pension for having 
discharged an important trust for forty years, they would 
have been guilty of no public robbery, and I, who actually 
discharge the duty, would have been admitted at least to 
some recompence for my labour. ... So much for grumb- 
ling. But I am much more angry with our friends for their 
internal disunion, than for neglecting such an individual 
as myself. If the present, or any un-whiggish administra- 
tion, will but keep their ground, I will make hay before 
the light or sunshine of my little reputation sets, and I 
have always my official emoluments to look to one day, for 
the deuce is in it if a man twice my age outlive me after 
all. But I detest the Whigs with a cordial detestation, 
and the bilious fits which I should experience under their 
domination, would I am convinced get the better of me. 

Now here comes a great request. Your friend Lady 
Castlereagh has I am told a numerous collection of 
original letters of Swift, written to her ancestress Mrs. 
Howard, the favourite of Queen Caroline. Now this may 
not be true, but it bears a very probable face. I am 
informed Lord Leitrim has seen them ; there are letters (it 



1810] TO LADY ABERCOEN 171 

is said) to Queen Caroline (I presume while Princess of 
Wales), to Mrs. Howard, and to Pope. Now, do you think 
Lady Castlereagh's countenance will so much belie the 
good-nature which, with beauty, is its distinguishing 
characteristic, as to refuse me copies of these letters ? I 
will take such care of them as has never been taken of 
anything in this world, and you need not tell Lady C. that 
I am an old friend of Canning, since I am sure I am a 
sincere well-wisher to Lord Castlereagh, whose conduct since 
that unfortunate quarrel 1 has been so manly, generous, 
and patriotic. Do, dear Lady, write and let me know what 
I can expect about these same letters, — not that there is 
any hurry, only that I am impatient to know if the whole 
be not one grand blunder or quiz. I fear there is now no 
chance of my being soon in England, and indeed in the 
present state of my family it is altogether undesirable. . . . 
— Believe me, my dear Lady Abercorn, your Ladyship's 
truly obliged and faithful, Walter Scott. 



TO ROBERT SURTEES/ 

Edinr., 23 March 1810. 

. . . The story of the Lambton worm is not unlike 
that of the Laidley worm of Spindlestonhaugh, or rather 
that of the serpent slain by our first Scottish Somerville, 
who made him bolt a burning peat. 

I cannot help thinking there is some strange truth 
disguised under all this fiction. Who knows to what size 
the reptile race may have attained when the borders, still 
so very wild, were comparatively uninhabited, covered 
with wood, and abounding with those animals on which 
creatures of prey subsisted ? As their enemy man increased 

1 Resulting in the well-known 2 From MS. transcript at Abbots- 
duel on September 2] , 1809. ford. 



172 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

in numbers, the game disappeared before him, and they 
were at once straitened in provisions and became the 
object of active and skilful hostility, — underwent in short 
a sort of blockade and storm at the same time. 

Many animals have disappeared from the earth, and 
many from the island, — the wolf, the wild bull or bison, the 
elk ; and as to the Lowlands, the red deer are of that last 
number, to which may be added the Capercaillie, or cock 
of the wood, in the air, and the Beaver in the lake. 

If I could for a moment credit the universal tradition 
respecting almost every Scottish loch, highland or lowland, 
I would say positively that their water-cow always sup- 
posed to dwell there was the hippopotamus, nor should I 
be at all surprised considering the uniformity of the 
tradition, both as to the nature and appearance of the 
animal, if upon draining some of those lochs which the 
rage for improvement will one day bring about, we should 
pop upon a skeleton of this Egyptian Behemoth. 2 

Holding this belief I must be particularly gratified in 
contributing to aid the descendant of a preux chevalier 
who rid the world of one example of a creature rather 
more curious as a specimen than pleasant as a neigh- 
bour. . . . 



1 The Capercailzie has been there is no doubt that it was con- 
reintroduced with success, but temporaneous in our island with 
efforts to naturalise the Beaver, Palaeolithic man. No trace of it has 
in the changed condition of the been met with in Scotland however, 
country, have hitherto failed. I can't believe that the 'water-cow' 

2 Scott's ingenious conjecture has of tradition was the Behemoth of 
not been confirmed by scientific Palaeolithic man, for both hippopo- 
investigation. Professor James tamus and Palaeolithic man vanished 
Geikie, in reply to an inquiry from Britain before the advent of 
regarding "Behemoth" in Scot- the last glacial epoch ; and it is in 
land, writes on March 13th, 1893 : the highest degree improbable that 
— " Yes, the hippopotamus has been any tradition of the kind referred 
found again and again both in caves to could have survived down to the 
and river gravels in England : and period of which Scott speaks." 



1810] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 173 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

March 30, 1810. 

My dear Miss Baillie, — Believe me I have never been 
so much pleased as with your kind and unmerited goodness 
in the matter of the Family Legend. 1 There is a freemasonry 
among kindred spirits (and I am your adopted brother) 
that always leads them to understand one another at little 
expense of words. I shall hold myself highly honoured 
indeed in what will, I am certain, make me live long after 
I should be otherwise forgotten, for no one can both eat 
his cake and have his cake, and I have enjoyed too ex- 
tensive popularity in this generation to be entitled to draw 
long dated bills upon the applause of the next. In the 
course of a train of life so fortunate as may make a pru- 
dent person fearful of the future, I have met with nothing 
that has given me so much real pleasure, and I verily hope, 
to use your own phrase, that what I feel is not real vanity 
but something better. 

The play is now groaning in the press ; I read the proofs, 
but this will not ensure their being altogether correct, for 
in despite of great practice, Ballantyne insists, I have a 
bad eye. I will gain one advantage by this, that I will 
obtain possession of the original manuscript, which I will 
preserve among my other literary valuables. 

Your introduction is delightful, flattering to us as 
Scotsmen and doubly pleasing to us as friends. Erskine is 
two inches higher upon the kind mention made of him. 
I have, I understand, missed the very finest performance 
ever seen in Edinburgh, — Mrs. Siddons (the elder) in Jane 
de Monfort. Everybody agrees that she was never more 
herself than in that character ; playing with her son, and 
upon his theatre was doubtless one great cause, not only of 

1 Scott alludes here to the dedi- to offer it to the notice of my indi- 
cation of the Family Legend which gent countrymen, I inscribe this 
ran thus :— ' « To Walter Scott, Esq. , play. " 
whose friendly zeal encouraged me 



174 SCOTT'S FAMILIAK LETTEES [March 

exertion, but of real enthusiam. She fairly cried herself 
sick at her own part, so you may believe there was fine 
work in the front, as they call the audience part of the 
house ; never was there such a night for those industrious 
females the laundresses. And how came you to be absent, 
Mr. Scott? Why truly I was dreeing penance for some 
undiscovered sin at a family party of about a month's in- 
vitation, so flight was as much out of the question as it 
was to suppress my disappointment with patience, for I 
expected enough, although my expectations appear to have 
fallen short of the truth. 

The young Siddonians are delighted with the dis- 
tinguished and flattering applause you have given to their 
efforts. 

I wish I was like you in everything ; but politics in 
this free country make an early part of our education, and 
become bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. There is 
no difference except in words and personal predilections 
between the candid and well-informed of both parties. In 
principle there is, and can be, none. No Whig will allow 
that it is his intention to break down the royal part of the 
constitution, and no Pittite will call himself an enemy to 
legitimate freedom. The debateable ground between the 
parties is very narrow indeed, so far as real principle is 
concerned. But it is in words and in partialities that we 
differ, and while we continue mortal, words and partialities 
will be principal motives to human action ; so we will e'en 
leave the parties to pull caps themselves, and hope that if 
we do happen to be weights in the one scale or other, at 
least we are not leaden ones. 

Did I not tell you my own poem has nothing to do 
with the valiant Sir Lancelot ? It is a Highland tale, of 
which the scene is laid on the verge of Loch Katrine. I 
am pressing the printers to despatch, and hope soon to 
send you a copy. 



1810] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 175 

I will take care that the bookseller's cash is forthcoming 
as soon as our bargain permits. You can put it in your 
scrutoir and dispose it as you please. 1 As for the prologue 
and epilogue, I believe it is the rule of stage not to resume 
them after the first run of the play is over; that is, so 
soon as the performance of another piece has intervened. 
But do not hope you will escape them in the printed 
copy. If I were as tedious 2 as an emperor, I could 
find it in my heart to bestow it all on your Ladyship, 
and I am too fond of sounding my trumpet before you 
to be ashamed of its being a little out of tune. 

You are quite right as to my private opinion of 
Westall's illustrations ; they are badly devised, like almost 
everything of the kind I ever saw; but what would it 
have availed to have said so to the artist or to poor 
Longman ? — the deed was done. 3 

By the way, I understand there are two rival sets of 
illustrations in preparation for the Lady of the Lake even 
before she makes her appearance. Both will probably be 
execrable; for if Westall, who is really a man of talent, 
failed in figures of chivalry when he had so many paint- 
ings to guide him, what in the devil's name will be made 
of Highland figures? I expect to see my chieftain, Sir 
Koderick Dhu (for whom let me bespeak your favour) in 
the guise of a recruiting serjeant of the Black Watch, and 
his bard the very model of Auld Bobin Gray upon a 
japanned tea-tray. Mrs. Scott joins in kindest and 
best love to Miss A. Baillie, Dr. and Mrs. Baillie, and 
family. — I am ever your truly obliged and faithful 

W. Scott. 

1 It is recorded that from 1800, King." — Much Ado about Nothing, 
when Kemble brought out "De Act iii. Sc. 5. 

Monfort" on the London stage, 3 The illustrations were for a 

Miss Baillie appropriated one-half quarto edition of the Lay, published 

her gains to charity. in 1808. 

2 "If I were as tedious as a 



176 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [May 

TO THE SAME. 

Edinburgh, May 7, 1810. 

... I have no prospect now of being in London ; but 
the next time I come, I am much tempted by your kind 
offer of a harbour for Sophia to bring her with me ; she is 
a clever and tractable child, very capable of improving by 
what she sees and hears, and I would think a week or two 
of your society a most important advantage indeed. Early 
travelling in some respects is an advantage ; it opens the 
ideas of children, and if their companions will have patience 
to answer their questions, it is perhaps the highest enjoy- 
ment you can give them. To quit the actual nursery and 
come to our literary offspring, you must know that my 
young babe is born in the shape of a comely 4to. Two or 
three days since I addressed a copy for you to be left at 
Dr. Baillie's. ... I shall be impatient to hear if it has 
given you any amusement, and if it has been so fortunate, 
a fico for the critics. This accompanies a copy of the 
Family Legend, which I learn with surprise has not been 
forwarded to you : it is positively more delightful in read- 
ing than in representation. Lord Meadowbank 1 came in 
here yesterday with his eyes streaming from the perusal ; 
and fetching tears from an old metaphysical lawyer, and 
Scotchman besides, is something like the miracle of Moses' 
rod in the wilderness. The sale has been very much to the 
bookseller's satisfaction ; four-fifths of the quantity retained 
in Scotland are already sold, and the rest daily going off. 

James Grahame 2 has returned to Scotland : his wife is 

1 Allan Maconochie, a judge of the Scotch Bar and taken Orders in the 
Court of Session from 1796. This Church of England, where, notwith- 
learned lawyer was one of Scott's standing his talent and literary at- 
earliest recruits for the Quarterly. tainments, he could only obtain a 
He contributed an article to the humble curacy in Gloucestershire, 
fourth number (Nov. 1809) on He was a candidate at this time 
Charles James Fox, of which Gif- for the incumbency of St. George's 
ford and Canning thought highly. Chapel in Edinburgh; but he did 
Lord Meadowbank died in 1816. not meet the approval of the 

2 James Grahame had left the patrons. He died in 1811. 



1810] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 177 

now in town making interest to get him appointed preacher 
to the chapel in Queen Street, and I am moving heaven 
and earth to help her ; but I fear she has been too late of 
starting, as I find many of the most sweet voices are 
already engaged in behalf of others. He is a worthy, 
modest, and most ingenious man, ill calculated I fear to 
beat up against wind and tide, which on this occasion 
seem to set in against him ; but still I do not renounce 
hope of success. I have not heard why he left the living 
in England, but suppose he did not quite find the climate 
agree with him. . . . — I ever am, most faithfully yours, 

W. Scott. 

TO THOMAS SCOTT. 

13th May 1810. 

... I am truly sorry for the reduction of the Militia, 1 
yet it is but an idle man's employment, and though the 
immediate loss be severe, I would fain hope you may, with 
your talents, find a more lucrative and active sphere of 
exertion. I have not been quite idle myself, for my situa- 
tion makes it necessary that I should labour. My last 
effort has been a new poem, of which I expect to have a 
copy for you in a week or two. . . . 

There is no news here worth telling. Your old friend Bailie 
Coulter died in his glorious year of Provostry, and was buried 
as doubtless he would have wished to be, only that Messrs. 
Young and Trotter, his opponents in the Council, were in- 
trusted with the charge of solemnising his rites of sepulture. 

Matters look serious in London, and I fear infinite 
pains has been taken to infect the Foot Guards with 
democratic principles. I hope they will have the prudence 
to send them in an army to Portugal, and replace them 
with regular marching regiments, less subject from their 

1 Thomas Scott left the Isle of Regiment, then stationed in Scot- 
Man in 1810, and in 1811 was land. In 1813 it was ordered to 
appointed Paymaster to the 70th Canada, where he joined it. 

VOL. I. M 



178 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [May 

constitution and discipline to popular contagion. I wish 
they may have no occasion to regret disbanding Militia 
and Volunteers. Yet the sense of the generality of the 
people is so sound that I cannot bring myself to have 
serious apprehensions. We are beginning to kindle here 
in a little degree. All reminds me of an exclamation of 
the French as recorded in their old history, " Tanneguy 
du Chatel, ou es-tu ? " x What is become of William Pitt ? 
It is astonishing how the loss of one man has deranged 
the wisdom and disorganised the force of this mighty people. 
You and I, with wives and children, and seventeen years 
added to our lives, will hardly scramble so well as we might 
have done in 1793-4 when the same game was playing. 

I was much obliged to you for your curious notices 
about the remnant of old customs in the Isle of Man. I 
am surprised their song of triumph over the wren is in 
English. I remember to have heard verses of it, and if I 
mistake not, the whole is in Johnson's collection 2 of Scotch 
songs and music. Burns, who assisted Johnson, may have 
picked it up in Dumfriesshire. As your residence in so 
curious a place must have furnished you with many mis- 
cellaneous remarks, I wish you would throw them into the 
shape of a little Essay and send it to me for the Register, 
of which I am a proprietor. . . . — I ever am, yours affec- 
tionately, W. S. 

1 Tanneguy du Chastel. — See not to bed all night, but ramble 
Moreri for an account of this 15th about till the bell rings in all the 
century Breton Marshal of France, churches, which is at twelve o'clock; 
whose example Scott was so fond prayers being over, they go to hunt 
of citing. the wren, and, after having found 

2 I do not find this custom men- one of these poor birds, they kill 
.tioned in Johnson's Museum ; but her, and lay her on a bier with the 
after the lapse of a dozen years utmost solemnity, bringing her to 
Scott himself alludes to it, and the parish church, and burying her 
quotes from Waldron a description with a whimsical kind of solemnity, 
of the ceremony : — singing dirges over her in the Manx 

"On the 24th of December, to- language, which they call her knell ; 
wards evening, all the servants in after which Christmas begins." — 
general have a holiday ; they go See Peveril of the Peak. 



1810] TO MOERITT 179 

TO MORRITT. 

June 1810. 

My dear Morritt, — I need not say how acceptable your 
approbation of the Lady of the Lake is to me, because you 
will readily give me credit for feeling both as a friend and 
as a poet upon the occasion. 

Your criticism is quite just as to the Son of the dry 
bone, Brian. 1 Truth is, I had intended the battle should 
have been more detailed, and that some of the persons 
mentioned in the third Canto, and Brian in particular, 
should have been commemorated. I intended he should 
have been shot like a corbie on a craig as he was excom- 
municating and anathematizing the Saxons from some of 
the predominant peaks in the Trosachs. But I found the 
battle in itself too much misplaced to admit of being pro- 
longed by any details which could be spared. For it was 
in the first place episodical, and then all the principal 
characters had been disposed of before it came on, and were 
absent at the time of action, and nothing hinged upon the 
issue of consequence to the fable. So I e'en left it to the 
judgment of my reader whether Brian was worried in the 
Trosachs, or escaped to take earth in his old retreat in 
Benharrow, near Ardkinlas. 

My principal reason for writing immediately is to beg 
you will have the goodness to address your pamphlet 2 to 
me under cover to Mr. Freeling, General Post Office, who 
gives me the privilege of his unlimited frank in favour of 
literature. Any moderate packet will always reach me in 

1 Morritt had written : "The only fault for introducing us to an ac- 

disappointment I felt in the poem quaintance of so much promise and 

is your own fault. The character not telling us how he was after- 

and terrific birth of Brian is so wards disposed of." 

highly wrought that I expected 2 An anonymous pamphlet by 

•him to appear again in the denoue- Morritt on the State of Parties, 

merit, and wanted to hear something entitled Advice to the Whigs, etc., 

more of him ; but as we do not by an Englishman. 
hear of his death, it is your own 



180 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [June 

that way. I have a little commission for you, if you will 
be kind enough to accept of it. You know I fell in love 
with your library table, and now that the Lady has put 
crowns into my purse, I would willingly treat myself unto 
the like, only I think I have not much occasion for the 
space which holds accompt books. In other respects it is 
quite a model, and in that respect I don't quarrel with 
it ; for why should I not be a rich man one day and have 
accompt books. Now were I to send to your upholsterer 
(not to mention I have forgot his local habitation and his 
name) he would probably send me what he best pleased, 
and therefore I intrude so far on your time as to request 
you when you are taking a walk to order me such a table 
as yours, the terms to be ready money on the things arriv- 
ing here. I should like it to come before I leave town for 
Ashestiel, which will be 12 July. 

I sometimes have thought of a jaunt to the Hebrides this 
summer. But if this Highland trip should misgive, I would 
not have you be too secure from an invasion at Rokeby, for 
I have been persuading myself that the Carlisle stage would 
set me down at Greta Bridge in no time at all, and I sleep 
most delectably in a mail-coach. But all this is at present as 
much a dream as honest John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. 

So your London citizens are taking the alarm. As 

Dryden says — 

I would it should be so — 'tis a good horror, 
First let them fear for rapes and plundered houses, 
Cold burghers must be struck and struck like flints 
Ere their hid fire will sparkle. 

It is disgraceful to see the legislature of this mighty 
kingdom, representatives of all the power, wisdom, and pro- 
perty of Great Britain, insulted by the very scum of the 
earth, for such must the mob of Westminster be, and very 
little better do I hold the factious demagogues of the 
Livery. ... 

Mrs. Scott joins in kind compliments to Mrs. Morritt. 



1810] TO MOERITT 181 

I fear she will be now longing excessively for the groves 
of Rokeby. — Ever yours, W. Scott. 

Pray don't be lazy, but finish your ballad, with a wanion 
to you. 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

[Edinburgh, June 10, 1810.] 

I am truly gratified by your approbation of the Lady 
of the Lake. ... As I am quite sensible of the necessity of 
giving the public some variety of manner as well as of story, 
I stretched my canvas on a much smaller scale than when 
I attempted the story of Flodden. Should I ever write 
again, which is very uncertain, I intend to take the 
Hebridean character and scenery with that of the north 
of Ireland for my subject ; but this is truly speaking of 
the saddling of a foal. 

I have forwarded your letter to Grahame, and have 
done all the little in my power to assist him in his object. 
The only good I can do is to endeavour to remove political 
prejudices founded on his poem of Copenhagen, and being 
myself "more an ancient Roman than a Dane," I have, 
I think, some chance of being listened to upon such a 
subject. What probability of success he has is at present 
uncertain ; the vestry in whom the election lies are like 
other solemn bodies, mysterious and oracular, and the in- 
dividuals who compose that august Sanhedrim, when spoke 
to separately say c hum,' ' go to/ look wise, and make the 
most of their temporary importance, but we will keep a 
sharp look out, and do the best we can for the " Sabbath " 
Bard, who is really a most worthy and amiable man and 
an excellent painter of Scottish manners and scenery. 

The adventure of the Duke of Cumberland is indeed 
terrible. It looks as if all the curses of the poor Highland- 
ers upon the head of his predecessor in title had been 
suspended in effect, and had now fallen upon the inoffen- 



182 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [June 

sive wearer of his unlucky coronet. Is it not very odd 
that old Duke William, after all the " Tears of Scotland," 
should have died quietly in his bed, and that this man who 
is one of the most worthy of his family (I believe) should 
be hack'd to pieces by an Italian valet 1 for no reason at 
all ? By the way, I have used the incident in conversation 
as a confutation to those who deny that the excess of 
hatred in De Monfort's character is founded in nature. 

Seillis appears, though in low life, to have been a re- 
markable person, and I dare say was quite right in his 
quarrels with Neale, but finding his complaints neglected, 
and that none of the friends to whom he mention'd them 
sympathized with his feelings, he brooded over them till 
he became capable of this desperate action. A passion 
which we dare not impart to others, and which when im- 
parted attracts no sympathy, is sure in minds of a certain 
class to burn with a flame more ardent because smother'd ; 
but to talk to you of passions is really sending, as we say, 
salt to Dysart. . . . 

Charlotte would have written to tell you all this, but 
she feels, or rather thinks she feels, difficulty in expressing 
herself upon paper so accurately as she would ; she some- 
times takes fits of apprehension of this kind, though she 
understands English like a native. 

I enclose for Mrs. Hunter 2 a copy of the little metrical 
Miscellany, which has long lain at the bottom of my port- 
manteau when pack'd for London. I assure you I value 
her applause not a little, for my sense of it is proportioned 
to my estimation of her acknowledged talents. 

I fancy Dr. Baillie and you Northern folks, banished to 

1 For an account of this singular and author of one of the versions of 
affair, see Edinburgh Register, vol. the Flowers of the Forest. She was 
iii. part 2, pp. 78-85. born in 1742, and died in 1821. 

2 Mrs. Hunter, Joanna Baillie's There are several of her poems in 
aunt, was Anne Home, widow of the early volumes of Scott's Annual 
John Hunter, the great anatomist, Register. 



1810] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 183 

the lands where " Meadows flower, and corn-fields wave in 
the Sun," like my poetical bouquet the better that it is 
chiefly composed of Highland heather. 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

29th June 1810. 

My dear Lady Abercorn, — I was agreeably dis- 
appointed by your kind letter, in which you take upon 
you a fault which was really mine, for I ought to have 
apprized you that the Lady of the Lake was waiting to 
pay her respects to your Ladyship and the Marquis as you 
passed through Dumfries. I am truly glad the Marquis 
thinks it worth his patronage, as I certainly most sincere- 
ly wished it might not disgrace his Lordship's acknow- 
ledged taste, and the kind and friendly dispositions with 
proofs of which he has honoured me upon so very many 
occasions. I like it myself as well as any of my former 
attempts, and the public seem to receive it with kindness, 
which even the sanguine hopes of the Booksellers had not 
anticipated. The quarto edition of 2000 has not lasted a 
fortnight, and the smaller edition is now published, of 
which I hope to send your Ladyship a copy to-morrow or 
next day, as it contains a few corrections made since the 
1st edition. 

As for my lover, I find with deep regret, that however 
interesting lovers are to each other, it is no easy matter to 
render them generally interesting. There was however 
another reason for keeping Malcolm Graeme's character a 
little under as the painters say, for it must otherwise have 
interfered with that of the king, which I was more 
anxious to bring forward in splendour, or something 
like it. 

As the Session of our Courts will soon be over I intend 
to go for a fortnight to the Hebrides, which I have never 



184 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [June 

visited, though I have been on the opposite mainland. I 
hardly know whether to expect much or not, but I strongly 
suspect the best parts of Highland scenery are those which 
lie upon the main. But my friend Ronald Macdonald of 
Staffa 1 promises me a good barge, six rowers, a piper, and 
his own company for pilot, which is a strong temptation. 
Had your Ladyship remained in Ireland, and been adven- 
turously disposed, you might have sailed from the Irish 
coast, and in five hours, or not much more, visited the 
famous cavern of Fingal. I will let you know on my 
return whether it be worth seeing or no. 

I am truly happy Lord Hamilton's health is likely to 
be re-established, and that his Lady meets your maternal 
hopes. I hear high accounts of her from every quarter, 
and I am sure he deserves domestic happiness, which her 
temper and dispositions are I understand likely to secure 
to him. 2 

I am grieved about Lady Castlereagh's letters, which 
would have been of great consequence to me, but I hope 
her Ladyship will publish them according to her present 
intention, and I will be happy to have an opportunity 
of seeing them. 

We expect Lord Melville here immediately, and I think 
I may have some chance of finding him at Dunira on my 
return from the West Highlands. 

I suppose Sir Francis Burdett's extravagancies 3 have 
been of considerable service to ministers, as they must 
have the necessary effect of compelling everybody to rally 
about the King and the Government. Pray what is sup- 

1 Ronald Macdonald of Staffa ton's death she became second wife 
married the heiress of Steuart of of the fourth Earl of Aberdeen. 
Allanton, and succeeded his father- 3 Sir Francis Burdett had been 
in-law as second Baronet ; he died committed to the Tower on the 
in 1838.— See Scott's Life, vol. iii. Speaker's Warrant, for breach of 
p. 272. Privilege in April, and was released 

2 Granddaughter of the 15th on the prorogation of Parliament 
Earl of Morton. After Lord Hamil- in June. 



1810] TO LADY ABEKCOKN 185 

posed to be the real motive of Sir Francis's rejecting the 
civic triumph which his friends had so kindly prepared 
for him ? Was he afraid that his guards and escort might 
not prove so orderly as to do credit to their general, or did 
he feel reluctance, like Sir John Falstaff, to "march through 
Coventry " at the head of his ragged regiment ? 

Adieu ! my dear friend ; if I am not drowned in the 
whirlpool of Corrievrekin, or knocked against the basaltic 
columns of Staffa, or carried off by some of the spectre 
Abbots of Iona, or eaten up by the wild Macraws, whose 
appearance struck Johnson with some apprehensions of 
the kind, your Ladyship shall hear from me, with some 
accounts of my wanderings. 1 

I beg to be respectfully remembered to the Marquis 
(by whose kind letter I was much gratified) to Lord 
Hamilton and the ladies, and ever am your Ladyship's 
very faithful and respectful humble servant, 

W. Scott. 

Excuse a wafer, as I write from the Court, where we 
are allowed no lighted tapers. 

FROM FRANCIS JEFFREY. 

Saturday Evening, 
llth August [1810]. 

My dear Scott, — I think it right to let you see these 
sheets 2 before any one else sees them. I cannot regret 
having told the truth according to my oath of office ; but 
I should very deeply regret having told it in such a way 
as to give you any pain. I am now sensible that there 
were needless asperities in my review of Marmion, and 

1 Scott, with his wife, daughter, for the Western Islands, making 

and several friends, left Edinburgh his headquarters at Ulva as guest 

immediately after the 12th July, of the Laird of Staffa. 
proceeding leisurely, "with his 

own horses," through the High- 2 Containing Jeffrey's article on 

lands to Oban, where he took boat the Lady of the Lake. 



186 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Sept. 

from the hurry in which I have been forced to write, I 
dare say there may be some here also. I have bungled 
your poetical characters too, by beginning my sketch on a 
scale too large for my canvas, and the mere unskilfulness 
of the execution I fear has given it something the air of 
caricature. But I think you have generosity enough to 
construe me rightly in stating all these things, and to 
believe me when I say that I am sincerely proud both of 
your genius and of your glory, and that I value your 
friendship more highly than most either of my literary or 
political opinions. And now, presuming that this article 
will break no squares between us, I have* two favours to 
ask ; one, that you would, if possible, dine here on Tuesday, 
to meet Alison, Playfair, and two American ladies who are 
very much your admirers ; and the other, that you would 
dine here again on Thursday with Jack Murray and two 
friends of Sydney Smith, who are just returned from the 
Highlands. I am afraid you will think me very un- 
reasonable for one week, but if I don't catch you now, I 
am afraid I shall see but little of you till November. — 
Believe me, ever very faithfully yours, F. Jeffrey. 

Half-past five both days. 

Be so good as return the sheets when you have quite 
done with them. 



TO LADY ABERCORN. 
Ashestiel, by Selkirk, 30th September 1810. 

I have not, my dear friend, had much to say since I 
returned from my Highland excursion. The isles in many 
particulars more than answered my expectation. The 
cavern in the uninhabited island of Staffa in particular is 
the most wonderful place of the kind that imagination 
can conceive. The sides are composed of basaltic columns 
exactly like those of the Giant's Causeway in Ireland, with 






1810] TO LADY ABEECORN 187 

which you are doubtless well acquainted. The angles of 
those pillars are, as it were, cemented to each other by a 
sort of yellow concretion resembling spar, or marble, which 
forms a striking and curious contrast to the sable colour 
of the granite columns themselves. The arch is as high 
as that of a cathedral, and has nearly the same regularity 
of shape, the ribbed pillars bending towards each other, as 
if to meet at the top. They have, however, at the roof a 
sort of ceiling formed of the ends of other pillars which 
have been broken off in the course of the natural convul- 
sion by which the cavern was formed. This immense and 
magnificent cavern opens full upon the Atlantic Ocean, 
whose billows roll up to the extremity of the cave with a 
noise which, even in the calmest day, would deafen thunder. 
When the weather is extremely calm you can enter the 
cavern in a boat, but the least swell makes the attempt very 
dangerous. You can also reach the extremity by scram- 
bling along a line of broken pillars of unequal height, which 
extends along the right-hand side of the cave. We did both. 
The proprietor of the isle, Macdonald of Staffa, a fine 
high-spirited young chieftain, was our pilot and guide 
through the Hebrides. He is much loved by his people, 
whose prosperity he studies very much. I wish I could 
say so of the Duke of Argyle; 1 but his isles are in a 
wretched state. That of Iona in particular, where it is 
said Christianity was first planted in Scotland, and which 
still exhibits many curious and even splendid remains of 
monastic grandeur, is now in a most deplorable condition. 
The inhabitants are so numerous in proportion to the size 
of the island, that (although it is a fertile spot, comparing 
it with the other isles around it) it is barely sufficient 
to support them in the most wretched state possible in 

1 George William, sixth Duke, treatment at the hands of the pre- 

who died in 1839. The island, the sent accomplished holder of the 

people, and the ecclesiastical re- title (1893). 
mains have received very different 



188 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Sept. 

ordinary years ; in those of scarcity they must starve, for 
they have nothing to pay for imported corn. Much of 
this misery might I apprehend be remedied by a well- 
regulated encouragement to fishermen, for the sea abounds 
with fish of every description. But such a system, to 
prevent peculation and abuse, must be carried on under 
the countenance of an active, benevolent, and at the same 
time a resolute landlord. We were surrounded on the 
beach by boys and girls, almost naked, all begging for 
charity, and some offering pebbles for sale. My wife 
bought some, which have been since transformed into a 
very pretty necklace. In the Isle of Ulva, where the 
Laird of Staffa has his house, we were treated with some- 
thing like feudal splendour. His people received us under 
arms, and with a discharge of musketry and artillery. His 
piper was a constant attendant on our parties, and wakened 
us in the morning with his music. 

The people are a wild and hardy race, very fond of 
music and poetry, which they chant perpetually to their 
oars. While we were at Staffa, one of the boatmen who 
could not speak a word of English came forward and made 
me a speech, in which there was a great deal of compliment 
on account of my being " the great bard of the Lowland 
border," and " burnishing the shields of ancient chieftains," 
with much more figurative eulogy, of which I regretted I 
could not get an accurate translation. It concluded with 
acquainting me with their determination to have a remark- 
able pillar of the cavern called after me, 'Clachan an 
Ehaird Sassenach mohr,' or the stone of the great Lowland 
bard. The ceremony was concluded by a solemn dram 
of whiskey by way of libation. So you see, my dear Lady 
Abercorn, that poetry retains its honours even where it is 
not understood. Perhaps it is owing to the same indul- 
gence that your protegSe, the Lady of the Lake, has met 
with even more popular favour than any of her predeces- 



1810] TO LADY ABEKCOKN 189 

sors. When the edition now in the press has issued forth, 
it will make the number amount to seventeen thousand, — 
a success I believe unexampled in bookselling, when the 
work was not of a political nature. 

I hear the Priory is greatly enlarged. It is not likely 
I shall see it soon, a London journey being always attended 
with a certain expense, and I want to save my money to 
buy a corner among my native hills and build a cottage 
cb mon gre. 

I beg my most respectful compliments to the ladies 
and to the Marquis, not forgetting Lord Hamilton, whose 
health I hope is confirmed. 

Believe me, dear Lady Abercorn, with great respect 
your much obliged and most respectful humble servant, 

Walter Scott. 



TO MISS SMITH. 

Ashestiel, Uh October 1810. 

Lest I should relapse, my dear Miss Smith, into my 
unfriendly and ungracious silence, I hasten to express the 
remorse I have experienced at your kind letter, which I 
have so little deserved. But the truth is, and I wish I 
had a better apology, that the spirit of procrastination 
sometimes quite overcomes me, till an answer so long 
delayed has neither grace nor good manners, and I am 
finally terrified from setting about it at all. I might 
indeed sometimes plead — and with truth — the weariness 
of fingers whose daily bread depends in some degree 
on their daily exercise ; but I should be ashamed to state 
to you such an apology in a stronger light than the fact 
admits of, for the truth is that there are weeks and months 
in which I do not only not use pen and ink, but have a 
sort of horror of the very sight of them. This is more 
especially the case in this retreat which we are just about 



190 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Oct. 

to leave for the winter, after having enjoyed an uninter- 
rupted tract of the most delightful and settled good 
weather which our northern and unstable climate has 
ever afforded us in my remembrance. I hope you have 
enjoyed the same in the beautiful scenery where you have 
been conversant, and that as your climate was more 
genial, it has been equally uniform and serene. 

Mrs. Scott and I employed the early part of the vaca- 
tion in a tour to the Hebrides, which I had never visited, 
although I was in early youth acquainted with the 
mainland opposite to them. My eldest little girl accom- 
panied us, and being quite a little doll whom we could 
fling to sleep in any corner, she was no inconvenience to 
us, while I hope she acquired some degree of taste for the 
beauties of nature which, as it is one of the most attainable, 
is also one of the most certain sources of enjoyment which 
life offers us. 

The grandeur of the scenes which the islands afford is 
a little qualified by the sombre and savage state in which 
it is expressed. Few or no trees, huge barren hills wrapp'd 
in endless mist, torn by unceasing cataracts, where the 
waters bear no more proportion to the excavations and 
ravines which they tear out of the bosom of the hills, than 
human passions do to the consequences of their indul- 
gence ; such are many of the aspects of nature we viewed. 
These however do not apply to the Highland mainland, 
where the lochs are usually clothed with the most beauti- 
ful birch wood. Nor are the isles without their charms, 
although they consist rather, as far as I saw, in the eccen- 
tricities, than in the ordinary productions of nature. The 
caverns of Staffa struck me more than anything I ever 
looked on in my life, and the ever-changing ocean, with all 
its endless varieties, affords to those who live on its margin 
studies sufficient to compensate for the want of the usual 
clothing of wood and verdure. 



1810] TO MISS SMITH 191 

I have heard so much of the wonders of Killarney that 
I hope I shall one day pay them a visit, and believe me, I 
should be proud to profit by the hope you give me of 
being made known to Lady Kingston. 1 I am much hon- 
oured by the good opinion of the Irish nation, whose praise 
must be always most valuable to a poet, because they are 
not only a people of infinite genius, but of a warmth of 
heart and feeling not perhaps generally appreciated, either 
by your countrymen or mine. The English gentleman 
(in a new poem, which we shall supposed dated from 
Ashestiel) asks something that awakes him during the 
perusal from an habitual contempt of that which goes on 
around him ; a Scotchman likes and praises the work of a 
countryman, for the same reason that in London he would 
walk half a mile farther to purchase his ounce of snuff 
where the sign of the Highlander announces a North 
Briton. But an Irishman's praise is that of feeling, and 
though a Scotchman must always be a Scotchman, and 
like his own countrymen better than those of the other 
allied kingdoms, yet in doing justice to all three he must 
allow the praise of spirit and sentiment to the Irish. 

As I have been long trammel'd with an edition of 
Swift's works, which I should be anxious to render 
respectable, I hope to visit Ireland to endeavour to gain 
additional light on his history. But whether this will 
happen next year or no depends upon many trifling con- 
tingencies. Mrs. Scott joins me in kindest compliments. 



TO MORRITT. 

3rd Oct. 1810. 

My dear Morritt, — I do not long delay answering 
your kind letter, and assuring you of my sincere sympathy 
in the distressing events to which you have lately been 

1 Helen, Lady Kingston, a daughter of Lord Mountcashel. 



192 SCOTT'S FAMILIAK LETTEES [Oct. 

exposed. 1 The beautiful and feeling verses by Dr. Johnson 
to the memory of his humble friend Levett, and which 
with me, though a tolerably ardent Scotchman, atone for 
a thousand of his prejudices, open with a sentiment which 
every year's acquaintance with this Vanitas Vanitatum 
presses more fully on our conviction. 

" Condemn'd to Hope's delusive mine, 
As on we toil from day to day, 
By sudden blast or slow decline 
Our social comforts melt away." 

I am sure Mrs. Morritt must have deeply felt these 
repeated strokes of misfortune. . . . 

I have little to complain of the Edinburgh Review. 2 
Jeffrey sent me the sheets with a kind and for him an 
apologetic letter, saying he was sensible that there was 
some needless asperity in his review of Marmion, etc., and 
that he had studied, in delivering his sincere opinion to the 
public, to do it in a way that should not be unnecessarily 
harsh to me or my friends. And indeed his general tone 
is much more civil and respectful than is usual for the 
Review, where an author is neither a philosopher nor a 
Foxite. But after all, and among friends, I think it should 
puzzle him to make a popular pudding after the receipt 
which he has given as mine, and I protest to you that I have 
been (like the poor Lady who studied anatomy) ignorant 
till this moment how many pretty things went to the 
making of me. . . . 

The weather till these few days has been delightful 
beyond what the memory of the oldest persons can retain 
any trace of, and fortunate it was so, for the harvest was 
so late that under less favourable auspices than this 
astonishing tract of fair weather, it could never have been 
put into the Barnyard. 

1 The death of Mrs. Morritt's brother, Mr. James Stanley, and of 
another dear friend. 2 See Jeffrey's Letter, ante, p. 185. 



1810] TO MORRITT 193 

I have very little prospect indeed of getting to London 
next year. My Commission is ended, and sooth to say 
the expenses of a London journey do not suit a poet's 
purse altogether so well as, God willing, I would desire they 
did. But we must meet, and Mrs. Morritt and you being 
the more locomotive persons will I trust take another 
peep of Scotland, where you have still so much to see, and 
I will promise if you do to see you safely back into the 
West Riding. Have you seen the Edinburgh Register ? If 
not, do get it; the history is written by Southey, and 
though with some tinge of opinions which neither you 
nor I approve, yet there is much eloquence, and a great 
deal of what everybody must admire. The principles 
respecting France are particularly excellent; the general 
tone of political impartiality gives them great weight, and 
to my knowledge they are beginning to tell among those 
who would have called them party clamour through any 
medium. — Believe me ever, yours truly, 

Walter Scott. 



TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Edin* , 15th October 1810. 

My dear Lady Abercorn, — I send a packet addressed 
to Mr. Arbuthnot, containing a copy of the much honoured 
Lady to wait upon her kindest and best patroness. The 
quartos have long vanished, nor can I even guess what is 
become of yours, since you did not find it at the Priory, 
where I desired it might be sent. I add the little collec- 
tion, which I hope your Ladyship will approve of. 

The treatises on the Fiorin 1 are very interesting, and if 
they are found to be grounded on practical experience, 

1 Dr. Richardson, an enthusias- on the public the advantages of 

tic Irish agriculturist, was at this Fiorin as a grass for moist grounds 

time and for some years later (he or "water meadows." But it has 

died in 1820), pressing strongly up- not proved successful. 

VOL. I. N 



194 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [Oct. 

cannot fail to be of the last consequence to Scotland. I 
observe Dr. Richardson speaks a good deal about the Duke 
of Buccleuch's water-meadows. With these I am some- 
thing acquainted. What they may do with Fiorin I know 
not, but they are not very productive in their present 
state. The engineer laid the blame on the quality of the 
water of the Yarrow, which, being a run from a large lake, 
is remarkably pure and limpid, very fit for poetry, in 
which it has been often celebrated, but not so well adapted, 
it would seem, for water-meadows. After abusing it a 
great deal the fellow closed his charges against it by com- 
paring it to what I suppose he thought the basest liquor 
in the world. " It has no more heart," quoth he, swearing 
to his assertion, " than as much small-beer" A very odd 
simile for the classical Yarrow, thought your minstrel. I 
daresay the Duke will try the Fiorin, which, if it succeed, 
will render his extensive system of irrigation much more 
valuable than it will ever be otherwise. 

I would willingly make you, my kind and partial 
friend, the promise you request respecting my future 
literary engagements. But the public, with many other 
properties of spoiled children, has all their eagerness after 
novelty, and were I to dedicate my time entirely to poetry 
they would soon tire of me. I must therefore, I fear, 
continue to edit a little, till circumstances set me more 
above the necessity of depending upon my pen for an 
important part of my income. Whenever the time 
comes that I can, with due attention to my own family, 
lay aside my prose-pen, I assure you, my dear friend, I 
shall do it with great pleasure, for, as the Neapolitan 
beggar says, " You don't know how lazy I am." 

I fear all our farmers would laugh at me were I to 
attempt the Fiorin ; for although they might pay me some 
deference as a lawyer or a poet, or even for finding a 
hare or spearing a salmon, I fear my agricultural reputa- 



1810] TO LADY ABERCORN 195 

tion stands too low among them to give the experiment 
fair play. But I have an excellent, cool-headed, practical 
farmer for my neighbour, whom I will put upon the 
experiment. , . . 

I am quite idle just now as to poetry, and have no idea 
of writing anything serious in that way for a year or two 
at least. But whether I keep my resolution or not is 
uncertain, for the Lady of the Lake was a very sudden 
thought, and begun only twelve months ago. I will let 
you, my dear Lady Marchioness, know so soon as I engage 
in anything likely to interest you. . . . 



TO THE SAME. 

Edinburgh, 24th October 1810. 

It would be very difficult for me to express how much I 
am indebted to your Ladyship for your kind interference 
in my behalf with the possessors of the precious letters of 
Dryden, which is the more nattering as Malone was refused 
access to them when he undertook his Life of Dryden. I 
will be extremely happy to have the honour of being 
introduced to Lord Malmesbury, and by his means to Lord 
Whitworth, and I hope to be in town in spring to avail 
myself of their liberal and kind permission to copy these 
letters, as well as to return my personal thanks to my 
kind intercessor. 

I wish from my heart I could transport myself to the 
Priory just now, for I am here on some official duty 
without a soul to speak to, having left my whole family at 
my farm. The common phrase of Nobody in town is 
metaphorical with the Great in London, and only means 
there is nobody one knows ; but here it is almost literal at 
this season — the grass grows in the streets, and you would 
absolutely think that the place had been visited by the 
plague. The few natives that are left are run mad with 



196 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 

politics, and bite and scratch each other's eyes out. To 
complete the whole, I went yesterday to visit a person 
who has just taken possession of a little old pigeon-house 
kind of a castle near this town, and entertains his guests 
according to the ancient Caledonian fashion, with the 
martial music of the great war-bagpipe played by a High- 
lander in complete array, who strutted up and down the 
little hall in which we dined, during the whole time of 
dinner ; so that if there were a single being left to speak 
one sentence of common sense, I had not an ear left to 
listen to him, my whole head being yet ringing with the 
tremendous music of yesterday. 

I will now proceed to copy some of the Ballads, lest 
my packet be too weighty for the cover. The first refers 
to the Massacre of the Monks of Bangor, who about 610 
marched in procession to Chester, then besieged by the 
heathen king of Northumberland, and were cut to pieces 
by his soldiers. 1 ... I have other four little tales, or sing- 
song kind of verses, to add to this dismal ditty, but I will 
not copy them at present, because I should disappoint my 
little wife, who insists that notwithstanding the munifi- 
cence of Lady Abercorn in equipping me with eternal pens, 
I am not the most legible writer, in the world, and she 
therefore claims the task of being clerk upon this occasion, 
were it only to show, though in so trifling a matter, how 
much she is, as well as I, ever your Ladyship's most 
respectful and most faithful servant, W. S. 

TO MISS SMITH. 

Edinburgh, 10th December 1810. 
I hasten, my dear Miss Smith, to reply to your in- 
quiries about the Lady of the Lake in its dramatised form. 
That Mr. Siddons is bringing it out is very certain, but it 

1 See Poetical Works, vol. xi. p. 342. 



1810] TO MISS SMITH 197 

is equally so that I have not seen and do not intend to 
see a line of it, because I would not willingly have the 
public of this place suppose that I was in any degree re- 
sponsible for the success of the piece ; it would be like 
submitting to be twice tried for the same offence. My 
utmost knowledge has been derived from chatting with 
Mrs. Siddons and Mrs. Young in the green-room, where I 
have been an occasional lounger since our company has 
been put on a respectable footing. They have got some 
clever scenery, from studies taken at Loch Katrine by 
Williams, their painter, who is a very good artist and went 
there on purpose. But whether the dialogue is in verse 
or prose I really do not know. There is a third Lady of 
the Lake on the tapis at Covent Garden, dramatised by no 
less genius than the united firm of Reynolds and Morton, 1 
But though I have these theatrical grand-children as I 
may call them, I have seen none of them. I shall go to 
the Edinburgh piece when it is rehearsed with lights and 
scenes, and if I see anything that I think worth your 
adopting I will write to you. The strength will probably 
lie in the dumb-show, music, and decorations, for I have 
no idea that the language can be rendered very dramatic. 
If any person can make aught of it, I am sure you will. 
The mad Lowland captive if well played should I think 
answer. I wish I could give you an idea of the original, 
whom I really saw in the Pass of Glencoe many years ago. 
It is one of the wildest and most tremendous passes in 
the Highlands, winding through huge masses of rock with- 
out a pile of verdure, and between mountains that seem 
rent asunder by an earthquake. This poor woman had 
placed herself in the wildest attitude imaginable, upon the 
very top of one of these huge fragments ; she had scarce 

1 The Knight of Snowdon, a musi- the Lake, a drama in three acts, by 
cal drama in three acts. The other E. J. Eyre, 
version referred to was the Lady of 



198 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 

any covering but a tattered plaid, which left her arms, 
legs, and neck bare to the weather. Her long shaggy 
black hair was streaming backwards in the wind, and ex- 
posed a face rather wild and wasted than ugly, and bear- 
ing a very peculiar expression of frenzy. She had a hand- 
ful of eagles' feathers in her hand. As she spoke no 
English, I no Gaelic, we could have no communication, but 
I learned at the next resting-place that she used to wander 
among the rocks for whole weeks during the summer, and 
was only driven back to society by the inclemency of the 
weather ; of her story, which might be sad enough, I could 
learn nothing. The lady who plays this part should 
beware of singing with too stiff regularity ; even her music 
or rather her style of singing it, should be a little mad. 

Joanna Baillie (for who ever heard of Miss Sappho) 
wrote to me that some of her friends had seen the Surrey 
piece and censured severely the following circumstance: 
the King led Ellen the whole length of the stage and took 
his place upon a throne at the bottom in the discovery 
scene. This she said was discourteous, and therefore out 
of character. If you think so too, it can be easily corrected. 

I wish I could direct you about the plaid ; but you had 
better take the prettiest according to your own taste, for 
the Douglases being a Lowland family had no particular 
colour of tartan. I rather wish I could show you how to 
put it on, for it is a great art, and when done prettily is 
very becoming. I can only describe it by negatives. It 
is not like a Highland Serjeant's, nor is it scarf -wise like a 
shepherdess in an opera ; but as I have no opportunity of 
" rowing you in your plaidie " I should only puzzle you by 
an attempt to describe it. The plaid is fastened by a 
brooch, which should be large and showy. The chaussure 
should be buskins of deer-skin; this applies to the High- 
land men also. Douglas, the King, and other personages 
should be dressed in the old English fashion, from which 



1810] TO MISS SMITH 199 

the Scottish dress differed but little. All caps or bonnets, 
no hats. The bonnet should not be overlaid with feathers, 
a single plume distinguished the Dunnie-wassell or gentle- 
man, when I first remember the Highlands, from the 
peasant. 1 

These little trumpery notices are all that occur to me. 
Doubtless were I with you, I would, in my anxiety that 
you should shine where I am at all concerned, plague you 
enough about costume. If anything should occur in 
which I can be useful, pray, my dear Miss Smith, com- 
mand, and show as much of this letter to Mr. C. as you 
think can be of use to him. A good Christmas and all 
kinds of success to you, Walter Scott. 

P.S. — I shall be anxious to hear how you succeed. 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

22nd December 1810. 

My dear Lady Abercorn, — We are dying here for 
political news, even like shell-fish at the ebb of the tide, 
and you, my dear friend, who soar above us like an osprey, 
and see all the changes of the atmosphere at a distance, 
have not the charity to drop me a single line to make me 
wiser than my fellows. I am, however, in the happy state 
of one who has nothing either to hope or fear from the 
change I apprehend, unless as far as it affects my friends 
or the country at large. 

An administration who may dislike me can fortunately 
take nothing from me; and my friends who are now in 

1 Scott's love of accuracy in cos- undertaker's hearse, and replaced 
tume was once shown in the green- them by a single broad quill feather 
room, when Kemble was preparing of an eagle sloping across his noble 
to go on the stage as Macbeth, brow." Kemble told Scott after- 
He took the liberty of divesting the wards that the change was worth 
great actor's Highland bonnet of to him three distinct rounds of ap- 
" sundry huge bunches of black plause from the audience. — Miscell. 
feathers which made it look like an Works, vol. iv. p. 205. 



200 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 

power have never seemed much disposed to befriend me 
effectually. . . . 

We have a report here that our Marquis is to be Lord 
Chamberlain, at which I should greatly rejoice if I could 
hope that there was foundation for it. I am sure they 
will be much obliged to him if he shall be disposed to take 
such a troublesome office. 

Should this fortunately be the case, I shall have a suit 
to his Lordship on the score of the Edin r theatre ; having 
been foolish enough to consent to be a trustee for the 
public, along with my Lord Chief Baron, the Lord Advocate, 
Solicitor, and some other of our first people here. A dis- 
pute has unfortunately arisen about the patent which has 
involved Messrs. the Trustees, who had no other interest 
in the matter than the pleasure of serving the public, in 
great plague and vexation. // such an appointment 
should take place, it would be very kind in you, my dear 
Lady, to let me know early, that I may solicit an audience 
on this troublesome business, with which, if I had known 
as much of theatrical matters two years ago as I do now, 
I would never have troubled myself upon any account. 

I am afraid you would scold me if I told you how idle 
I have been since writing to your Ladyship, and therefore 
I will keep my secret. 

They are busy dramatizing the Lady of the Lake here 
and in Dublin, and in Covent Garden. I carefully avoid 
making inquiries, lest it should be expected I should give 
any assistance, and I would not willingly give the public a 
pretext for supposing that I intended introducing myself 
on them in another shape. It would be like being twice 
tried for the same offence, so I content myself with instruct- 
ing Mrs. Henry Siddons, who is a very pleasant as well as 
a very amiable person, how she should put on, or as we 
may say, busk her Highland plaid. Her husband, a very 
worthy and honourable man, but with very little of his 



1810] TO LADY ABERCORN 201 

mother's genius, is our manager here, and I fear likely to 
be hurt with this foolish embroilment of the patent, which 
makes me more anxious about it than I should other- 
wise be. 

I hope you got your own copy of the Lady of the Lake 
safe. Perhaps, like other ladies, she was so late in paying 
her respects, that she did not deserve to have her call 
acknowledged. 

We are going to set forward, in the middle of a snow- 
storm I fear, to keep an old hereditary engagement of 
eating our turkey and cheese with my friend and chief 
Mr. Scott of Harden on Xmas Day. 

Two days ago we had a dreadful accident on the coast, 
two frigates lost by bad pilotage. They mistook the light 
of a lime-kiln for the beacon of the Isle of May, and ran 
straight ashore. Fortunately almost all the crews were 
saved. — Yours ever truly and respectfully, W. S. 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE 

Mertoun, December 3lst, 1810. 

Nothing, my dear Miss Baillie, could have given me 
more pleasure than your setting some value on the trinket 
which accompanied my last, and not a little proud shall I 
be of its occupying a place in the new gown. Charlotte 
puts in for her share of merit, and is not a little delighted 
that you should have assigned it to her. But when will 
our mourning be over and our splendour shine forth ? 
Alas ! not I fear until we have mourned for our poor old 
King, whose frame I should fear is gradually giving way 
under this terrible malady. Yet if his recovery should 
not be speedy and permanent, I scarce know how to wish 
it, either for his own sake or that of the country, for the 
unsettled and feeble domination of a Kegency will not fail 
to have its usual effects in setting the worst principles of 
faction afloat, and dividing the country between those who 



202 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 

profess to stand up for the father, and those who adhere 
to the son, and that at a moment when all the united 
talents of our best politicians, and the continued and 
unanimous efforts of our whole nation, would not be more 
than enough to ensure the safety of the commonwealth. 

I am truly happy that the prince has behaved with 
decorum and moderation. Any appearance of pressing 
forward into power at such a juncture would imply a great 
unworthiness to possess it. 

Even amid these tragic considerations it is impossible 
to preserve gravity at the frisks and frolics of our northern 
Maecenas, Sir John Sinclair, Bart. It is actually like the 
Punch of the puppet show, who intrudes himself into 
every scene, grave or tragic, whether it represents King 
Solomon in all his glory or the Universal Deluge. To 
show you how essentially necessary this wise-acre thinks 
it that he should have a finger in every man's pie, he 
wrote me the other day a long letter, laying down rules 
for a poem to be called the Lady of the Sea, and which 
was to turn upon the adventures and intrigues of a Caith- 
ness mermaiden, with whom he almost promised me an 
interview. I parried the undertaking by reminding him 
that he had brought the sea-nymphs so much into the 
province of natural history that they could no longer be 
considered as fictitious beings, and had therefore ceased 
to have any title to poetic commemoration. 1 This wise 

. x The letter of this worthy gentle- Statistical Account of Scotland [of 
man has been preserved, and he which Sir John was the originator], 
not only gravely suggests such a ... You have increased the number 
subject for a new poem, but gives of visitors to Loch Catherine be- 
some curious details of his visit to yond measure ; my carriage was 
the Trossachs : "I was fortunate the 297th in the course of this year, 
enough," said the Baronet, "to have and there had never been above 
a very favourable day for visiting 100 before in any one season when 
the beauties of Loch Catherine, in its fame rested solely on prosaic 
the fame of which I take a peculiar eulogiums ; so that the effect of 
interest, as it was first brought into praise in verse compared to praise 
notice by the publication of the in prose is as 3 to 1." 



1810] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 203 

epistle reminded me of the tragic plan he was kind enough 
to lay down for you, and which, hard-hearted as you are, 
you failed to avail yourself of. And that celebrated pro- 
ject of Darius conducted me to a much more pleasing 
subject, the Family Legend ; so before I left town for the 
holidays I made John Ballantyne furnish me with the 
enclosed copy of a letter to Mr. Henderson, which is the 
second, he tells me, he has written to him about the copy 
money; it will apprise you how that matter stands, and 
you have only to 

Speak your wishes, speak your will, 
Swift obedience meets them still. 

As for the metamorphosis of the Lady of the Lake into 
drama, or rather three dramas, for the same adventure is 
to be tried at Dublin, London, and Edinburgh, I would not 
willingly have you believe either that I affect or possess 
stoicism enough to be insensible to the applause of a 
crowded theatre ; on the contrary, I think that of all kinds 
of popular plaudits, this is the manner in which an author 
has his most satisfactory, and perhaps intoxicating, draught 
of success. But I shall have no more honour, supposing 
any of these attempts successful, than the cook who roasted 
a turkey yesterday has for the capo-rota (I think house- 
wives call it so) . . . presented us to-day out of the reliques 
of the feast. 

I cannot think with much patience of such persons 
as Reynolds and Morton garbling my unfortunate 
verses and turning that into dramatic dialogue which is 
but well enough as it stands in minstrel verse; and 
therefore once more do I wish the whole affair at the 
bottom of Loch Katrine, nor do I care if they carried the 
whole race of melo-drama along with them, provided the 
stage were left open to the tragedies of a certain fair lady 
who does not know her own merit, or believe what her 
friends tell her on that point. . . . 



204 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 1810 

Meanwhile I shall wait with anxiety the promised 
volume. Perhaps I may have a Pisgah sight of it when I 
come to Hampstead in spring, which in the event of my 
coming to London, is one of the most pleasant objects I 
have in view. 

If there be anything incoherent in this letter, pray 
ascribe it to my working in the neighbourhood of a ball, 
for all the little Scotts of Harden, with the greater part of 
my own, are dancing in the New Year Eve , , , 



CHAPTER VII 

1811 

EDINBURGH AND ASHESTIEL 



1 Now on the scene Vimeira should be shown, 

On Talavera's fight should Roderick gaze, 
Aud hear Corunna wail her battle won, 

And see Busaco's crest with lightning blaze : — 
But ahall fond fable mix with heroes' praise ? 

Hath Fiction's stage for Truth's long triumphs room ? 
And dare her wild-flowers mingle with the bays, 

That claim a long eternity to bloom 
Around the warrior's crest, and o'er the warrior's tomb !" 

Vision of Don Roderick. 



FAMILY ANNALS AND LITERARY WORK 

1811— AGE 40. 



At work on Swift. 

First purchase of land on Tweedside. 

Vision of Don Roderick, cr. 4to, published 

by Ballantyne & Co, July. 
The Inferno of Altisidora and Imitations, 

The Poacher, The Resolve, Bridal of Trier- 

vwAn, in progress. 



Secret History of the Court of James 1., 
2 vols. Svo, published by Longmans, 
London. 

Last Autumn at Ashestiel. 

Contribution to Quarterly — 
Southey's Curse of Kehama, in ^'u. S, 
Feb. 1811. 



CHAPTER VII 



TO LADY ABERCORN. 



Edin r -, llth January 1811. 

I must not, my dear Lady Abercorn, allow you to 
remain under your airy delusions as to my good faith. 1 . . . 
The first hundred lines of the Lady of the Lake were 
written, I think, in October 1809, and the first canto was sent 
to your Ladyship in Ireland so soon as it was complete, 
and you were the first who saw them excepting one friend 
and the printer, Mr. Ballantyne, who is a great critic as 
well as an excellent printer. I have been always, God help 
me, too poor and too impatient to let my poems lie by me 
for years, or for months either ; on the contrary, they have 
hitherto been always sent to the press before they were a 
third part finished. This is, to be sure, a very reprehensible 
practice in many respects, and I hope I shall get the better 
of it the next time. I assure you seriously, my dear 
friend, that I am not about any new poem, and it is need- 
less to add that nobody can have seen that which has no 
existence. 

Whenever I do begin any work you shall know it; 
but I hope we shall meet first. When the idea of a new 
poem has at any time crossed my imagination, I fore- 
see great difficulty in the choice of a subject. I have 
sometimes thought of laying the scene during the great 
civil war in 1643. This would have the advantage of some 
novelty, and the characters of the period might be rendered 

1 Lady Abercorn had complained confidence regarding the Lady of 
that her friend had withheld his the Lake when in progress. 

2C7 



208 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Jan. 

highly poetical. The only thing I have rhymed since The 
Lady of the Lake is translations from some very old Swiss 
battle-songs for a work called Northern Antiquities, which 
is undertaken by two friends of mine, who are very learned 
and very indigent, and to whom therefore I am glad to 
give a little assistance. 

I was quite delighted with Mr. Perceval's speech, 1 and 
indeed with his conduct through all this most unhappy 
business. He has risen greatly in the opinion of the 
country, and, with all who stand by the good old 
distressed Monarch at this crisis, will have a more noble 
reward in his own conscience and in the applause of all 
good men, than any continuation of power could have 
bestowed. I beg of your friendship, dear Lady A., to let me 
know when there is any probability of a favourable change 
in the King's malady; ill news will come soon enough. 
The Whig interest here are solemnizing their approaching 
power by giving parties, etc., — somewhat indecent this. 2 

The Duke of Argyle's marriage was a nine days' wonder, 
and is already forgotten. 3 I saw Lady Charlotte for an hour 
one evening as she passed through Edinburgh. 4 She is 
still looking beautiful. We hear she is or was on the 
eve of marrying Lord Petersham. Don't you think that 
might be as well let alone ? She has, I should think, left 
Scotland now, having passed through Edinburgh while 
I was at Mertoun. 

I have sometimes serious thoughts of going to Portugal ; 

1 In the debate in Parliament on married the daughter of the Earl of 
the Regency Bill, Dec. 1810, ren- Jersey, on Nov. 29, 1810. She had 
dered necessary by the sudden ill- been the wife of the Marquis of 
ness of the old king, which followed Anglesey. 

the death of his favourite daughter 4 Lady C. Campbell, daughter of 

Princess Amelia. the fifth Duke of Argyll, was then 

2 The expected change of admin- Lady-in-waiting to the Princess of 
istration on the appointment of a Wales. See Diary of the Times of 
Regent did not take place. George IV., 2 vols. Svo, 1838. 

3 George William, sixth Duke, 



1811] 



TO LADY ABERCOEN 



209 



that is, if the war lasts and Lord Wellington is to be 
supported there. I have described so many battles that 
I would compound for a moderate degree of risque to see 
one, and I suppose a non-combatant would be in no great 
danger, and that I could easily get letters to headquarters. 
But all this is rather a vision than a scheme. 

Mr. Knight's * idea of a poem is an admirable one. Pray 
have the goodness to remember me to him, and believe me, 
with all respectful remembrances to the Marquis and the 
family, your honoured and obliged, W. S. 



TO THE SAME. 

February 25th, 1811. 

My dear Lady Abercorn, — Two of the enclosed were 
sent me yesterday, and I take the liberty to beg your 
acceptance of one of them. It is prettily engraved and 
not worth refusing. The dog is my poor deceased Camp, 2 



1 Richard Payne Knight, the well- 
known numismatist who had sug- 
gested a subject for Scott's muse. 

2 Readers will recollect the 
pathetic account of Camp's burial 
in the Garden behind 39 Castle 
Street, the whole family standing 
in tears round the grave, while 
Scott himself smoothed down the 
turf with the saddest expression 
of face his daughter had ever seen. 
— See Life, vol. iii. p. 189. 

The following is Sir Walter's 
letter to Mr. Stevenson, referred 
to at p. 36 : — 

"Camp was got by a black and 
tan English terrier called Doctor, 
the property of Mr. Storie, Farrier 
in Rose Street, about 1800, out of 
a thorough-bred English brindled 
bull-bitch, the property of Mr. 
John Adams of the Riding School, 
Adjutant to the Royal Edinburgh 
Volunteer cavalry. He was of 
great strength and very handsome, 

VOL. I. 



extremely sagacious, faithful and 
affectionate to the human species, 
and possessed of a great turn for 
gaiety and drollery. Although he 
was never taught any tricks, he 
learned some of his own accord, 
and understood whatever was said 
to him as well as any creature I 
ever saw. His great fault was an 
excessive ferocity towards his own 
species, which sometimes brought 
his Master and himself into danger- 
ous scrapes. He used to accom- 
pany me always in coursing, of 
which he was a great amateur, and 
was one of the best dogs for finding 
hares I ever saw, though I have 
since had very fine terriers. At 
last he met with an accident which 
gave him a sprain in the back from 
which he never recovered, after 
which he could not follow when I 
went out on horseback. The ser- 
vant used to tell him when I was 
seen coming home. I lived then at 

O 



210 



SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS 



[March 



whom your Ladyship has often heard me mention: my 
friends wrote as many elegies for him in different languages 
as ever were poured forth by Oxford or Cambridge on the 
death of a crowned head. I have Latin, French, Italian, 
Greek, Hebrew, German, Arabic, and Hindostanee poems 
to his memory. The distant view is that of Hermitage 
Castle, which the artist had ingenuity enough to draw from 
a very wretched sketch of mine. There was a Mezzotint 
print done from the same picture, but far inferior to the 
enclosed. 1 I hope you will honour it with a corner in your 
boudoir. . . . 

TO MISS SMITH. 



Edin., 12th March 1811. 

... I am very glad the manager found his advan- 
tage in the Lady of the Lake which, as far as I can judge, 



Ashestiel, and there were two ways 
by which I might return. If the 
servant said, ' Camp, your Master 
is coming back by the hill,' he ran 
to meet me in that direction. If 
the lad said, ' by the ford,' he came 
down to the bank of the river to 
welcome me ; nor did he ever make 
a mistake in the direction named. 
I might mention many instances of 
similar sagacity. He was seldom 
scolded or punished, and except in 
his pugnacious propensities, I never 
saw so manageable a dog. I could 
even keep him from fighting so long 
as I had my eye on him, but if I 
quitted my vigilance for a moment 
he was sure to worry the dog near- 
est to him. 

"He is painted in two portraits of 
his owner by Raeburn, one at Dal- 
keith Palace, and one in my own 
possession. He lived till about 
twelve years old, and might have 
lived longer but for the severe ex- 



ercises which he had taken when 
young, and a considerable disposi- 
tion to voracity, especially where 
animal food was to be come by. I 
could add a number of curious 
anecdotes of his sagacity, but they 
are connected with a family loss, 
since sustained, and are painful to 
recollect or detail. There is enough 
to illustrate Mr. Stevenson's pic- 
ture, which was painted by Mr. 
Howe, then a painter of animals of 
some merit. W. S. 

Shandwick Place, 
Edinburgh, March 11th, 1828. 

"I may add that the breadth of 
his chest and broadness of his paws 
made him a capital water-dog, and 
when I used to shoot wild ducks — 
which was not often — an excellent 
retriever." 

1 The engraving by C. Turner of 
Raeburn's portrait of Scott, painted 
in 1808, for Constable. 



1811] TO MISS SMITH 211 

is very well adapted for the stage; and I am delighted 
that you were thought a proper representative of Ellen, 
because that is paying Ellen a very high compliment. 
Our attempt at the Lady of the Lake did not succeed quite 
so well : yet it answered expectation, I believe, as to 
profit. The words of the poem are retained ; but, as they 
were thrown into the arrangement of blank verse, the 
dialogue had, to those acquainted with the poem, the 
appearance of an old friend with a new face. You 
always missed the expected, and perhaps the remembered 
rhyme, which had a bald effect. I think your plan 
infinitely preferable. 

In point of representation Mrs. Young played the mad 
captive superbly, and threw everybody into tears. Mrs. 
H. Siddons did not perform Ellen so well as I expected ; she 
had got somehow a little too Columbinish, and fell short 
in the dignity which should mingle even with the playful 
simplicity of a high-born maiden. But you are not to 
whisper this to any one, for Mrs. H. Siddons is a very 
particular friend of mine, and I know it would hurt her 
were it to come round. They are now going to buy the 
London edition of this said poem called the Knight of 
Snowdoun, which will probably produce them a house or 
two. I am told Koderick recovers and marries Ellen, there 
being no Malcolm Graeme in the case. You must know 
this Malcolm Graeme was a great plague to me from the 
beginning. You ladies can hardly comprehend how very 
stupid lovers are to everybody but mistresses. I gave him 
that dip in the lake by way of making him do something ; 
but wet or dry I could make nothing of him. His insigni- 
ficance is the greatest defect among many others in the 
poem; but the canvas was not broad enough to include 
him, considering I had to group the King, Roderick, 
and Douglas. I should have told you that a young man 
of uncommon talent and accomplishment (Mr. Daniel 



212 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [April 

Terry 1 ) played .Roderick Dhu delightfully. He is a rising 
actor, studies hard, and is a man of extensive reading, fine 
taste, and amiable manners. He often comes to read 
Shakespeare to me of an evening. . . . 

TO THE SAME. 

Edinr., Uh April 1811. 

That nothing may be wanting in my power to enable 
you to represent the Witch Dame of Branksome 2 in proper 
costume, I lose no time in answering your letter. The 
lady, when engaged in her magical intercourse with the 
spirits, should I think have a sort of stole or loose upper 
scarf with astrological hieroglyphics of the planets. I 
have seen Prospero wear such a thing, which you may 
remember he desires Miranda to pluck from his shoulders. 
For the same reason 1 would have the hair loose in the 
first scene, and afterwards put under such a head-dress as 
Queen Mary is usually represented with. The first scene 
should be a good deal studied in point of dress and scenery, 
for I conceive the lady's intercourse with supernatural 
beings is more to be understood from external appearances 
than from anything she actually says. I quite approve of 
your changing dress for the tournament. Only still be so 
good as remember you are a widow, and must therefore be 
rather sumptuous than showy in attire. The black velvet 
with old point will be quite in taste, and so will the relief 
of the green and gold. If you do not like Queen Mary's 
coif, you may chuse among the prints to Birch's Lives. 
Pray drub your management for the general blunder of 

1 Daniel Terry had just joined London, but was not successful. 

Henry Siddons's Company, and by He died in 1829. 
his many accomplishments soon 

became a friend of Scotfc, for whom 2 In Lay of the Last Minstrel, 

he had the most unbounded venera- dramatised under the title of 

tion. He afterwards became Border Feuds, or the Lady of Buc- 

manager of the Adelphi Theatre in cleuch, in three acts. 



1811] TO MISS SMITH 213 

dressing the Scottish borderers in tartan. He might 
as well make them speak Gaelic. They should have 
the bonnet ; and in a very picturesque ballad by a living 
borderer I find a spirited description of the appearance of 
Wat of Harden as handed down by tradition, from which 
some hints might be taken. I should say that the poet is 
lineally descended from the henchman of this famous 
marauder, a man selected for huge stature and great 
strength, and called, in allusion to his very unpoetical name 
of Hog, the Wild Boar of Falshope, and that it is from 
family tradition that this account of his protector's array 
was handed down — 

" And he 's away to Holy Rood, 
Among the nobles a', 
Wi' bonnet like a girdle broad, 
And hair like Craighope snaw. 
His coat was o' the forest green, 
Wi' buttons like the moon ; 
His trews were o' the good buck skin, 
Wi' all the hair aboon ; 
His twa hand sword hung round his neck, 
And rattled to his heel. 
The rowels of his silver spurs 
Were of the Kippon steel ; 
His hose were braced with chains of aim, 
And round wi' tassells hung. 
At ilka tramp of Harden's heel 
The royal arches rung." 1 

If Wat Tinlinn comes on the stage, an excellent sketch 
of his proper costume may be seen in the frontispiece to 
the first or second vol. of Grose's Military Antiquities, 
where an English archer is represented in his leathern 
jacket studded with iron plates. Only Wat Tinlinn should 
have a pike instead of the ugly mallet in the print. 

If I were to write anything for the stage, it would be 
for the delight of dressing the characters after my own 
fancy. But I am sure I never shall have that pleasure. 

1 See in Hogg's Mountain Bard the ballad of Gilmanscleuch. 



214 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [April 

The ruinous monopoly of the two theatres necessarily 
excludes everything but show, and renders the managers 
absolutely dependent upon that class who have least real 
taste for the stage as an elegant amusement. Their hours 
must be studied, their taste must be consulted, and the 
hours and taste of such an audience being necessarily at 
variance with those of the more polite and better educated 
part of society, why truly we may say, with a little altera- 
tion of the old song — 

" Our ancient English tragedy is banished out of doors. 
Our lords and ladies run to see signoras and signors." 

It increases my good opinion of the Irish nation that they 
have not fallen into the general depravity of dramatic 
taste, and that they do justice, my dear Miss Smith, to 
your merits. I shall be delighted when we can see you 
once more in the Land of Cakes, as your letter seems to 
promise. Adieu ! and pray let me know how the Lady of 
Buccleuch is received. Believe me, with sincere regards, 
your faithful friend and servant, W. Scott. 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Ashestiel, 30th April 1811. 
My dear Friend, — I promised I would not write any 
poetry without letting you know, and I make all sort of 
haste to tell you of my sudden determination to write a 
sort of a rhapsody upon the affairs of the Peninsula. It is 
to be called the Vision of Bon Roderick and is founded 
upon the apparition explanatory of the future events in 
Spain, said to be seen by the last King of the Gothic race, 
in a vault beneath the great church of Toledo. I believe 
your Ladyship will find something of the story in the 
Comtesse D'Aunois' travels into Spain, 1 but I find it at 
most length in an old Spanish history of the aforesaid Don 

1 Aulnoy, or Aunoy (Marie- d'Espagne, 1691 et 1699. 3 vols. 
Catherine), Relation du Voyage in -12, Paris. 



1811] TO LADY ABERCORN 215 

Roderick, professing to be translated from the Arabic, but 
being in truth a mere romance of the reign of Ferdinand 
and Isabella. It will serve my purpose, however, tout de 
mime. The idea of forming a short lyric piece upon this 
subject has often glided through my mind, but I should 
never, I fear, have had the grace to turn it to practice if 
it were not that groping in my pockets to find some 
guineas for the suffering Portuguese, and detecting very 
few to spare, I thought I could only have recourse to the 
apostolic benediction, " Silver and gold have I none, but 
that which I have I will give unto you." My friends and 
booksellers, the Ballantynes of Edinburgh, have very 
liberally promised me a hundred guineas for this trifle, 
which I intend to send to the fund for relieving the 
sufferers in Portugal. I have come out to this wilderness 
to write my poem, and so soon as it is finished I will send 
you, my dear Lady Marchioness, a copy — not that it will 
be worth your acceptance, but merely that you may be 
assured I am doing nothing that I would not you knew of 
sooner than any one. I intend to write to the Chairman 
of the Committee by to-morrow's post. I would give them 
a hundred drops of my blood with the same pleasure, would 
it do them service, for my heart is a soldier's, and always 
has been, though my lameness rendered me unfit for the 
profession, which, old as I am, I would rather follow than 
any other. But these are waking dreams, in which I 
seldom indulge even to my kindest friends. 

I have not heard anything from Mr. Dundas. His 
father wrote him a letter, of which he sent me a copy, and 
which is worth twenty disappointments. It is frank, 
generous, and if too warmly partial to me, is very honour- 
able to his feelings, admitting his judgment to be blinded 
by personal regard. I have written to Mr. Dundas in hopes 
to bring this matter to some end or other. They must 
give Mr. Home a pension in the event of my resignation, 



216 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [May 

and really I see no reason why they should economize for 
the State at the expense of my rising family. By diminish- 
ing my establishment, devoting my time to letters, selling 
my library and my house in town, and retiring to the 
country for life, I shall be able to make a provision for my 
young people without dependence on any one. My house 
is worth £2000, and my library, which has been my most 
expensive hobby-horse, worth a great deal more, even 
retaining the more useful books. So that if they choose to 
prefer any other person to my office, I shall only have to 
regret having spent five years in doing duty for nothing. 
I have realized some hundreds a year besides my Sheriff- 
dom, which is £300 more, so that I shall have enough for 
all the useful, and some of the ornamental, purposes of 
income, and have the less right to complain of any dis- 
appointment. 

Adieu, my dear friend, for deuce take this poem, it 
must be written before it can be read. I beg my kindest 
respects to your noble friends, and am ever, your truly 
obliged W. S. 

P.S. — When does your Irish journey take place ? I must 
waylay you at Dumfries. 

TO A SCHOOLBOY. 1 

Ashestiel, 6th May 1811. 

. . . The friends who know me best, and to whose 
judgment I am myself in the constant habit of trusting, 
reckon me a very capricious and uncertain judge of 

1 Written to James Dusautoy, a on the back of each. None of 

lad of fifteen, who had sent Scott Scott's replies were accessible to 

some specimens of his versification. me, and the above letter is quoted 

In the Abbotsford collection there from Southey's Life and Corre- 

are many letters from boys and spondence, vol. iv. p. 20. Mr. 

young men seeking counsel, all of Dusautoy was a distinguished stu- 

which Scott appears to have re- dent at Cambridge, but died there 

plied to, and then folded them suddenly of malignant fever about 

carefully, writing name and date 1814. 



1811] TO A SCHOOLBOY 217 

poetry ; and I have had repeated occasion to observe that 
I have often failed in anticipating the reception of poetry 
from the public. Above all, sir, I must warn you against 
suffering yourself to suppose that the power of enjoying 
natural beauty and poetical description are necessarily 
connected with that of producing poetry. The former is 
really a gift of Heaven, which conduces inestimably to the 
happiness of those who enjoy it. The second has much 
more of a knack in it than the pride of poets is always 
willing to admit ; and, at any rate, is only valuable when 
combined with the first. ... I would also caution you 
against an enthusiasm which, while it argues an excellent 
disposition and feeling heart, requires to be watched and 
restrained, though not repressed. It is apt, if too much 
indulged, to engender a fastidious contempt for the ordi- 
nary business of the world, and gradually to render us 
unfit for the exercise of the useful and domestic virtues 
which depend greatly upon our not exalting our feelings 
above the temper of well-ordered and well-educated 
society. No good man can ever be happy when he is 
unfit for the career of simple and commonplace duty; 
and I need not add how many melancholy instances there 
are of extravagance and profligacy being resorted to under 
pretence of contempt for the common rules of life. Cul- 
tivate then, sir, your taste for poetry and the belles- 
lettres, as an elegant and most interesting amusement; 
but combine it with studies of a more severe and solid 
cast, and such as are most intimately connected with your 
prospects in future life. In the words of Solomon : " My 
son, get knowledge." . . . 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Edinr., 17th May 1811. 

I do not know anything of a play of mine, my dear 
friend, unless it be a sort of a half mad German tragedy 



218 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [May 

which I wrote many years ago, when my taste was very 
green, and when, like the rest of the world, I was taken in 
with the bombast of Schiller. I never set the least value 
upon it, and as I gave copies to one or two people who 
asked for them, I am not surprised it should have risen up 
in judgment against me, though its resurrection has been 
delayed so many years. I happen fortunately to have a 
clean copy, of which I entreat your acceptance. The story 
of the Invisible Tribunal, on which it is founded, is probably 
familiar to your Ladyship. A very good little German 
romance entitled Hermann of Unna is founded upon it, and 
was translated about the time I employed myself in this idle 
task. The only tolerable scene is that between the mother 
and son, which I think would have a dramatic effect. 

I long to know when your motions are fixed. My wife 
will accompany me to Dumfries, as she is very desirous to 
have an opportunity, however awkward, to have the honour 
of thanking you for all your kindness. She is engaged in 
copying the Vision of Bon Roderick as fast as I copy it 
out for press, in order that your Ladyship may be possessed 
of it so soon as it is finished. It is all in the stanza 
of Spenser, to which I am very partial. . . . 

I am about a grand and interesting scheme at present, 
— no less than the purchase of a small property delightfully 
situated on the side of the Tweed, my native river. The 
worst is, there are few trees, and those all young. I intend 
to build a beautiful little cottage upon the spot, which will 
either be my temporary or constant residence, as Mr. 
Arbuthnot 1 succeeds or fails in his kind exertions on my 
behalf. I am sure I cannot be sufficiently grateful to him, 
or the kind friend who interested him in my fortune. I 
have a letter from Mr. R. Dundas, who pleads his journey 
to Scotland as a cause of delay, and seems pretty confident 
of bringing matters to a favourable conclusion. Am I not 

1 Mr. Charles Arbuthnot, one of the Secretaries to the Treasury. 



1811] TO LADY ABERCORN 219 

a good philosopher to write verses when I have £1300 a 
year trembling in the scale ? But how could I help myself 
by being anxious ? . . . 

TO THE SAME. 

Edinr., 25th May 1811. 

My dear Friend, — The calamity which has befallen 
our Courts of Justice, and Scotland in general, by the 
sudden death of our Lord President, 1 renders it impossible 
for me to be at Dumfries on the 27 th, agreeably to my 
intention, as we are all thrown into great confusion by so 
cruel a loss. I have, God knows, my own peculiar share 
in this general misfortune, for both in my official inter- 
course and in private life I lived upon the best and most 
intimate footing with the great judge we have lost. 
There never was a more general sorrow extending over 
all classes and parties of men. He was a rare instance 
of a man who attained universal popularity by the 
discharge of his duty, although he scorned to court it by 
any of the usual arts. And I do not believe that high 
and scrupulous integrity, extent of legal knowledge, and 
that dignified demeanour so necessary to support the 
credit of a Court of Justice, ever met so happily in a 
person of his eminent station. He had not been at the 
head of our law above two years, — -just long enough to 
show that what we all admired was no extraordinary 
exertion in consequence of his promotion, but the steady 
and uniform tenor of his conduct. He was not ill above 
half-an-hour, and I had parted with him the day before, 
in great health and spirits, after much laughing at some 
nonsense or other ; but such is our precarious tenure. I 
forget, my dear friend, that you probably did not know 

1 Robert Blair of Avontoun (son chosen Dean of Faculty 1801, 

of Rev. Robert Blair, minister of Lord President, 16th Nov. 1808, 

Athelstaneford, author of The died May 20, 1811. 
Grave), admitted advocate 1764, 



220 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [July 

this excellent man, but as a dear friend of mine, and an 
irreparable and unspeakable loss to Scotland, I am sure 
you will regret our loss of him. . . . 

TO MORRITT. 

1st July 1811. 

... I am quite delighted with your account of your 
journey, and would be most happy if I could promise my- 
self the pleasure of seeing you in Yorkshire this season. 
But as the French ambassador told the king, wishing to 
show that he understood the vernacular idiom and familiar 
term of the English language, " I have got some fish to 
fry." You must know that my lease of Ashestiel being- 
expired, I have bought a small farm, value about £150 yearly 
with the intention of " bigging myself a bower," after my 
own fashion. The situation is good, as it lies along the 
Tweed about three miles above Melrose, but alas ! the 
plantations are very young. However, I think if I can 
get an elegant plan for a cottage it will look very 
well, and furnish me amusement for some time before I 
get everything laid out to my mind. We stay at 
Ashestiel this season, but migrate the next to our new 
settlements. 

I have only fixed upon two points respecting my in- 
tended cottage, one is, that it shall stand in my garden, or 
rather kail-yard; the other, that the little drawing-room 
shall open into a little conservatory, in which conservatory 
there shall be a fountain. These are articles of taste 
which I have long determined upon. But I hope before a 
stone of our paradise is begun we shall meet and collogue 
about it. I believe I must be obliged to my English 
friends for a few good acorns, as I intend to sow a bank 
instead of planting it, and we do not get them good 
here. I will write to you again very soon, being now 
busied in bundling off my presentation copies of Don 



1811] TO MORRITT 221 

Roderick. Charlotte joins in kindest respects to Mrs. 
Morritt. Our little folk are all indebted to your kind 
remembrance, and I am ever yours, W. S. 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Edinburgh, 5th July 1811. 

Many thanks, my dearest friend, for your kind re- 
membrance from Dumfries, which I postponed answering 
from day to day because I expected continually to have 
had Don Roderick before the public. I sent a small private 
copy, of which I printed a few to give away among par- 
ticular friends, to Mr. Arbuthnot on Sunday last for your 
kind acceptance. By to-morrow's post I shall send him 
one of the large-paper copies, which is better fitted for 
your weak eyes. I hope sincerely they are getting 
better, and I beg you will not exert them too much, 
but get some one to read to you. When very young 
and a hard student I injured my eyes greatly by 
reading very late, and writing still later; but I found 
great advantage from the constant practice, then recom- 
mended to me, of washing the throat and particularly the 
back of the neck repeatedly in the course of the day with 
the coldest spring water I could get; and my eyes are 
now tolerably recovered, though I am very cautious of 
straining them. . . . 

We have, indeed, in poor Lord Melville, lost a generous- 
spirited patriot, a man of the most extensive political 
information, and one of the kindest friends in private life, 
that ever adorned society. Lady Melville is still at 
Dunira, in the Highlands, bearing her incalculable loss 
as people must bear irremediable afflictions* The fatal 
disease was an ossification of the veins and fibres of the 
heart, which had commenced so far back as 1802, 
attended with violent palpitation and fainting fits. He 
was quite sensible for several years of the nature of his 



222 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [July 

complaint, that it was gradually producing an interrup- 
tion to the circulation in the very seat of life, and must 
be mortal sooner or later. He has left a very remarkable 
letter to a medical friend, dated six or seven years back, 
in which he expresses this opinion of his disorder, and 
promises to be attentive to regimen at table; but as to 
riding fast and speaking vehemently in public, from which 
the physician had also dissuaded [him], he says that he 
must be left to the dictates of his own feelings, both in 
the exercise and in the discharge of his public duty ; and 
that he must ride fast or slow, as the feeling of the 
moment prompted, and that he could not think of 
speaking in public as if his physician was one of his 
audience. It is very remarkable that for about two years 
before his death, all the painful symptoms of his disorder 
seemed to disappear, and he never in his life, as he himself 
told me, enjoyed better health. Yet upon opening the 
body it appeared that the large ventricle which discharges 
the blood through the system, was contracted to nearly 
one third of the natural size by the progress of the 
ossification. He was quite well the day preceding his 
death; he had arrived by a hasty journey from the 
Highlands, to be present at Lord President Blair's funeral, 
with whom he was connected by early, uninterrupted, and 
intimate friendship. During the two days he was in 
Edinburgh 1 he was chiefly occupied in assisting to arrange 
the family affairs of the President, whose family is but 
indifferently provided for. Lord Melville wrote a most 
affecting letter to Mr. Perceval, recommending Mrs. Blair 
to the protection and generosity of the public, to whom 
her husband has rendered such eminent services. In the 
evening he made his visit to the disconsolate family, 

1 Lord Melville had gone out children, and returned to Edin- 

from Edinburgh to Arniston with burgh on Tuesday early. — Arniston 

his daughter on Sunday evening, Memoirs, p. 268. 
spent all Monday with her and the 



1811] TO LADY ABERCORN 223 

whose house is next door to Lord Chief Baron's, 1 then his 
residence. Upon his return he supp'd with the Chief 
Baron, who did not remark anything particular in his 
appearance. As he undressed to go to bed, he directed 
his mournings to be prepared for next day, when the 
funeral of the President was to take place, and at the 
same time said, " I lie down satisfied, for I have done all 
the painful duty which friendship exacted from me," or 
some expression to that effect. In the morning he did 
not ring at his usual hour of seven, for he always rose 
early, and his servant, becoming alarmed, entered his 
room about eight, and found him dead, and all remains 
of vital heat quite departed. It was clear that he had 
never waked, but passed away in sleep to a better world 
where there is neither calumny, persecution, nor sorrow. 
One arm was laid over his breast, and the other stretched 
by his side, — the attitude in which he usually slept. It 
is a remarkable coincidence that he died on Mr. Pitt's 
birthday (supposing that he departed before the morning), 
to which must be added the singular circumstance that the 
early friend of his youth, whose funeral he came prepared 
to attend on the next day, was then lying dead within 
a few rooms of him. Whether the quick and animated 
feeling of grief did or did not hasten this strange cata- 
strophe, can only be known to God Almighty ; but many of 
our medical men do think that the event, though perhaps 
it could not have been long deferred, was precipitated by 
the painful emotions with which the President's death, 
and the sad employments which devolved upon Lord 
Melville in consequence, were necessarily attended. 

I met him very often during his stay in Edinburgh 
last spring, being usually asked to meet him while he was 
on the round of visiting his old friends. I think my wife 
and I dined in company with him and Lady M. at 

1 Robert Dundas, Lord Melville's son-in-law. 



224 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [July 

different houses, six or seven days together, besides their 
honouring us twice with their company in Castle Street. 
He was in high health and spirits, and very communicative 
of curious information and anecdotes respecting Pitt's 
administration. I took the liberty to ask him why he did 
not write down some of these particulars for use of future 
historians. He promised that if I came to Dunira I 
should see some documents which he had preserved with 
such a view, but had never found leisure to arrange them. 

No doubt an immense deal of valuable and curious 
materials for history would have [been] preserved had our 
dear friend pursued his resolution. He showed me in 
confidence a very curious state of the correspondence, 
which he had with the present ministers upon the last 
change, in which, by the way, he was but indifferently 
used. His loss will be severely felt by the Pitt interest 
in Scotland, for his long possession of power and influ- 
ence had enabled him to acquire claims upon the grati- 
tude of many individuals which will expire along with 
him. His domestic affairs will turn out better (or at 
least somewhat better) than his friends expected, but 
Lady Melville will be but indifferently provided for. . . , 
It is said the Regent has expressed a wish that something 
should be done for Lady M. He caused his Secretary 
write to the President's son-in-law, expressive of his R. H.'s 
desire that a provision suitable to the services the Lord 
President had rendered the country should be made for that 
family. This looks like laying himself out for popularity. 

My next letter will be on a pleasanter subject, for I 
want to tell you, my dearest friend, that I have bought 
a small farm . . . and I want your advice about planting 
and building a cottage, and fifty things besides. — Ever, 
my dear friend, your truly grateful and obliged, 

Walter Scott. 



1811] TO LADY ABERCORN 225 

TO THE SAME. 

Ashestiel, 25th July 1811. 

... As the shortest reply to your kind inquiries about 
the size and nature of my cottage, I send you a sketch of 
the plan, marked with the accommodations which may be 
necessary. 1 There is nothing romantic in the situation, 
but the neighbourhood of a very noble and bold stream of 
water. The place I now inhabit is much more beautiful, 
but then it is not my own. I intend to plant almost the 
whole property, excepting about twenty-four acres above 
the road, for arable purposes, and the meadow near the 
proposed cottage for pasture. Thus in time I shall be 
embosom'd in a little wood, tho' at present the place is 
very bare. I am torturing my brains for the best means 
of conquering the prim regularity of artificial plantations, 
which I think may be done by putting in plants of 
different ages, and even sowing some part of the ground. 
Wood rises very fast with us everywhere. I shall have 
time enough for my plans, for I do not obtain possession 
till next May. A larger farm bounds my little patch to 
the south, which is now to be sold, and I would not hesi- 
tate to purchase it were my matters finished above stairs, 
but otherwise the difference between the interest of money 
and rent of land is too great for me to think of it. . . . 

We have been christening Lady Dalkeith's little girl 
(would it had been a boy). She is called Margaret, after 
the Lady in the Lay of the Last Minstrel, and Charlotte 
and I had the honour to be sponsors (as representing our 
betters, cela s'entend). . . . 

Adieu, my dearest friend. I must hear your page say 
his lesson, and it is hard to say whether the preceptor or 
the scholar finds the task most wearisome. But I do not 
chuse he should lose ground during his holidays. — Ever 
your faithful and obliged, W. Scott. 

1 See facsimile, end of vol. i. 
VOL. I. P 



226 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTEES [Aug. 

TO HIS MOTHER. 

Ashestiel, 14th August 1811. 

I found your letter on our arrival from Mertoun, 
where we had been for two or three days. I had a few 
lines from Jack, 1 from London, without any direction how 
to write to him, but I shall address to him Cheltenham 
(not Chatham as you mistake it), and as the post-office 
people always are alert at those watering-places, I am sure 
that will find him. 

Two days ago I bid as far as £6000 for a farm which 
lay near my little retreat, but at length gave it up, as far 
beyond the value, especially as another much more to 
my purpose will be in the market in a year or two. 

I might perhaps have felt bolder on this subject had I 
entertained further hope of having my salary made up, but 
the unfavourable state of the king's health makes so happy 
a circumstance very unlikely. I am advised to keep myself 
ready to go to London at a moment's warning, and have 
done so for this month past. I own I have little expecta- 
tion from personal solicitation, and shall avoid the expense 
of a London journey if possible. Lord and Lady Dalkeith 
have been staying with us for two days. You would be 
delighted with them, especially with the Lady. 

I grieve to observe the death of poor Mr. M. Mont- 
gomery, and can easily conceive the distress so unexpected 
a misfortune in the family of a kind neighbour must have 
given you. He was a very good and respected young 
man. . . . 

The bairns are all well. I labour Walter daily in 
Coesar and Virgil, and on Sundays in Buchanan's Psalms, 
a great exertion for my impatient temper ; however, be- 
tween yawning and scratching our head, we get on pretty 
well. Charlotte sends her kind love. In my present un- 

1 Major John Scott. 



1811] TO HIS MOTHER 227 

settled state (which pray do not mention to a human 
being), I cannot ask you to come here, but if it has a ter- 
mination before our good weather has quite fled, I will 
send the carriage to meet you at Bankhouse, and you may 
bring Crookshanks or Jessy with you, to take care of you 
like a lady, as you are. — Believe me, dear Mother, your 
dutiful and affectionate son, Walter Scott. 

TO JOHN RICHARDSON. 1 

Ashestiel, 14th August 1811. 

I yesterday saw the annonce of your change of state 
in the papers, which gave me sincere joy. I beg you will 
accept my best congratulations on the subject, with my 
hope that you will find the marriage state what I am sure 
it will be to a man of your sense and temper, an allevia- 
tion of the necessary pain of life and more than a duplica- 
tion of its pleasures. Mrs. Scott begs me to say that she 
claims an opportunity of being made acquainted with 
Mrs. Richardson whenever your residence in Scotland will 
permit, or our happening to visit London, of which last 
incident there is no speedy chance. If you can visit 
Ashestiel before you leave Scotland, you know how happy 
you will make us, and I will shew you a bare haugh and a 
bleak bank by the side of the Tweed, on which I design to 
break a lance with Mother Nature, and make a paradise 
in spite of her. I have the Tweed for my henchman for 
about a mile; I should not otherwise speak so crousely. 
If you can prevail on your bonny bride, therefore, to " busk 
her and come to the braes of Yarrow," you shall see per- 
adventure what you shall behold. 

1 John Richardson of Kirklands, land under the Whig government ; 

Roxburghshire. This learned law- and though Scott and he differed 

yer had a wide practice as a Parlia- in politics, they were close friends, 

mentary Solicitor. He was at one Mr. Richardson died in 1864. 
time agent for the Crown in Scot- 



228 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Sept. 

I am greatly obliged to you for your attention to my 
hobby-horse, and the very curious volume you have sent 
me as forage for it. . . . 

TO MORRITT. 

September 1811. 

I don't delay long to thank you for your kind offer of 
acorns, which I will accept with the greatest pleasure. . . . 
I assure you I will plant them in your name with my own 
hands and those of my little people, and we will promise 
ourselves a Morritt grove when the fit time shall come 
round. Next year, as I shall have, properly speaking, no 
place of residence in the country, I hope to be a wanderer 
and to brighten the chain of friendship at Rokeby. I 
should like very much to go into Wales if I could get any 
good companion, but I don't much approve of travelling 
alone, there are so many good things which rot in one's 
gizzard, as Sancho pathetically complained during the 
interval when the Don imposed silence upon him. I am 
quite happy that there is to be an union between the 
houses of Lindsay and Pennington. Lady Balcarres used 
to be my patroness many a day ago, when like a great 
shy lubberly [boy] as I was, I used to be very proud of the 
shelter of her countenance at parties and a seat in her box 
at the theatre, where she was a constant attendant. Lady 
Anne Lindsay 1 had great taste, particularly for painting. 
She does not indeed place mountains on their apex like 
that of Zarenta in Brace's travels, or those of Selkirkshire 
in Miss Lydia White's drawings, but what her representa- 
tions lose in the wonderful, they gain in nature and 
beauty. It happened by accident that a brother of Lord 
Balcarres dined here when I received your letter, and I 
made him happy by telling him his nephew met the 

1 Better known as Lady Anne Barnard, author of "Auld Robin 
Gray." 



1811] TO MOEEITT 229 

approbation of a friend of Lord Muncaster, one who was 
likely (as much as any one I know) to take a lively interest 
in an event which affected the happiness of a friend's 
family. 

The Edin r reviewers have been down on my poor Don 
Roderick* hand to fist ; but truly, as they are too fastidious 
to approve of the campaign, I should be very unreasonable 
if I expected them to like the celebration thereof. I agree 
with you respecting the lumbering weight of the stanza, 
and I shrewdly suspect it would require a very great poet 
indeed to prevent the tedium arising from the frequent 
recurrence of rhymes. Our language is unable to support 
the expenditure of so many for each stanza ; even Spenser 
himself, with all the licences of using obsolete words and 
uncommon spelling, sometimes fatigues the ear. They are 
also very wroth with me for omitting the merits of Sir 
John Moore; but as I never exactly discovered in what 
they lay, unless in conducting his advance and retreat 
upon a plan the most likely to verify the desponding 
speculations of the foresaid reviewers, I must hold myself 
excused for not giving praise where I was unable to see 
that much was due. . . . 2 

FROM LADY HOOD. 

London, July 22d, 1811. 
My dear Mr. Scott, — . . . I have been thinking much 
of Don Roderick, who is I think deservedly popular in 

1 The Vision of Don Roderick, otherwise." But the omission of 
published in 1811, for the benefit of Sir John Moore's name from the 
the Portuguese. list of British heroes — the only- 
Commander- in- Chief who had fallen 

2 The Edinburgh Reviewer re- in the memorable contest — was not 
marked that " in point of fact the allowed to pass without remon- 
poem begins and ends with Lord strance even from Scott's own per- 
Wellington, and being written for sonal friends. The lady, who was 
the benefit of the plundered Portu- too soon to be heir of the line of 
guese, and upon a Spanish story, Kintail, wrote the generous pro- 
the thing could not well have been test here printed. 



230 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTEES [July 

many respects. You know I told you honestly at first 
that I thought him very far inferior to his predecessors. 
Yet there are some beautiful lines in the poem, for instance 
the whole of the Confession', and the distinction between 
the three nations is highly characteristic and spirited. 
There are also many of these dear little traits that I de- 
light in, such as 

" Busaco's crest with lightning blaze." 
" And hear Corunna wail her battle won." 

But, my good friend, how could you name that fatal plain 
and not " pour your wailings " over the lamented chief that 
fell there, a hero peculiarly endowed with the chivalrous 
and noble spirit calculated to ensure him from fostering 
that admiration which his ungrateful employers in the 
hateful spirit of party wish to deprive him of. Surely his 
sufferings, the slights and insults offered to him by Mr. 
Frere, and the ungrateful neglect and low abuse of his 
memory, . . . present altogether the most melancholy pic- 
ture of a great mind insulted and oppressed by its enemies, 
that is to be met with in any history ancient or modern. 

Setting all party aside, I think the character and 
story of Sir J. Moore highly poetical ; fraught with honour, 
sensibility, and courage, he had not like Lord Wellington 
that insouciance of mind which enabled him to bear under 
the severest trials, nor was he attended by that propitious 
star which seems to guide the living hero thro' every 
storm into the haven of success and favour. • Lord Wel- 
lington's foresight is much and deservedly applauded, but 
was Sir J. M. inferior, tho' no sun gilded his prospect ? 
Yet the dark and fatal cloud which terminated his career 
he discerned from afar, big with all the malign influence of 
party spirit. ... He knew from the beginning what must 
be the result of the obstacles thrown in his path, of the want 
of confidence of his employers, and of the being forced 
at such a season without resources into the heart of the 



1811] FEOM LADY HOOD 231 

desert of Spain ; if lie was unsuccessful, was it then his own 
fault ? There seems now no doubt that he was sacrificed 
to the advancement of his junior officer Lord W., yet he 
fell not a willing sacrifice but kept his ground to the last. 
Indeed, my dear friend, I do wish his character had been 
at least touched upon in Don Roderick, not so much on 
his own account, for his fame is already secured beyond 
the malice of his foes by the beautiful and impartial his- 
tory of his last campaign, in which the despatches of 
Ministers themselves are damning witnesses against them, 
but because the total omission of the name of this illustri- 
ous chief is, and ever will be, looked upon as proceeding 
from party attachments in the Bard. You felt he was an 
injured man and therefore could not mention him without 
execrating the conduct of those whom you look upon as 
your friends. My opinion is, that when the day of moral 
as well as of political retribution shall arise, the blood of 
Sir John Moore will lie heavy on the souls of his enemies ; 
it will cry for vengeance with that of the innocent victims 
of Copenhagen and the devoted champions of Walcheren. 
... Of the many whom I have heard praise Don Roderick 
not one but has said, " Why this strange and partial omis- 
sion of Sir John Moore's very name?" So finished a 
character, so perfect an hero, must not remain uncrowned 
by the wreaths that you can so well bestow — doff thy 
party for a moment and nobly touch upon them. You 
who have felt so sensibly the injustice done to one of our 
countrymen 1 must not suffer party and prejudice to blind 
you to far greater injuries offered to another. Excuse, my 
dear Mr. Scott, the warmth and freedom with which I 
have expressed myself. . . . Yours most truly, 

Mary Hood. 2 

1 Lord Melville. letters has unfortunately disap- 

2 Scott's reply is not available, peared since Mrs. Stewart Mac- 
as the Seaforth collection of Scott's kenzie's death. 



232 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTEES [Oct. 

TO HIS MOTHER. 

Ashestiel, September ZOth, [1811]. 

. . . You will have, you see, no occasion for your spare 
bed, though little Walter is not less obliged to you, and 
his parents on his behalf, than if he had accepted your 
affectionate offer. The truth is, besides, that with the 
sweetest disposition in the world and very tolerable parts, 
the little gentleman has a propensity to idleness ; I hope 
not greater than is natural at his age, but which often re- 
quires a stronger check than you, my dear Mother, would 
chuse to apply, or perhaps than any one would apply 
except a father. So that I think just at this period of his 
life he would rather be a plague than a comfort to you. 
He reads from one to two hours Latin with me every day, 
so I hope to keep him up to the class, even if he should 
be a few days later of joining them, especially as his 
memory is one of the strongest I have observed. They 
will all be in town about the middle of October, and will 
be proud to attend you in such numbers and at such times 
as may conduce most to your amusement. 

TO MR. HARTSTONGE. 1 

Ashestiel, 24th October 1811. 
... I am glad you saw the tomb of poor Burns. The 
simple inscription you observed was the composition of his 
wife, the once lovely Jean. It is a disgrace to our country 
that something more worthy of his fame is not erected 
over his grave, but altho' frequently proposed, it has uni- 
formly fallen to the ground, from want of subscriptions, 
or from some disagreement about the nature of the monu- 

1 Matthew Weld Hartstonge, a Scott in his edition to Swift. He 
pleasant Irish gentleman residing was a frequent correspondent, 
in Dublin, who was of service to 



1811] TO MR. HAETSTONGE 233 

ment to be erected ; indeed, we are not famous for doing 
anything to preserve the memory of our Bards. I have 
been these twenty years member of a club for erecting a 
monument upon Ednam Hill to the memory of Thomson, 
but alas, we have never to this day been able to collect 
above a very few hundred pounds, totally inadequate to 
making anything respectable. 1 ... I am ever yours truly 
obliged, Walter Scott. 

1 The monument to Thomson re- the fine mausoleum, now in St. 

ferred to was at last erected at Michael's churchyard, Dumfries, 

Ednam in 1820. But Burns had not was finished in 1815, and the poet's 

to wait so long for recognition, as remains transferred to it. 



CHAPTEE VIII 

1812 

EDINBURGH AND ABBOTSFORD 



' And shall the minstrel harp in silence rest 

By silver Tweed, or Yarrow hung with flowers ; 
Or where, reflected on Loch Katrine's breast, \ 

High o'er the pine-clad hills Benledi towers ; 
Save when the blast that sweeps the mountain crest, 

"Wakes the wild chorus of iEolian song ; 
Save when at twilight grey the dewy west, 

Strays with soft touch the trembling chords among ; 
Whilst as the notes with wayward cadence rise, 

Some love-lorn maniac's plaint seems swelling to the skies." 

Edinburgh Annual Register, vol. iii. p. lxxxviii (1810). 



FAMILY ANNALS AND LITERARY WORK 



1812— AGE 41. 



Removes from Ashestiel to Abbotsford, 

May 1812. 
"Visits Flodden and Rokeby with Family in 

September. 
Patrick Carey's Poems in Edinburgh Register, 

vol. iii. pt. 2, pp. 67-76. 



Rokeby published, 4to, by Ballantyne 

& Co., Dec. 
Bridal of Triermain in preparation. 
Christmas at Mertoun. 



236 



CHAPTER VIII. 



TO LADY ABERCORN. 



1st January 1812. 

My dear Friend, — There was some learned man or 
other, whose name I have forgot, that invented a theory to 
account for all the petty misadventures, unlucky chances, 
and whimsical contretemps of life, by supposing a certain 
description of inferior daemons not capable of any very 
great or extensive calamity such as earthquakes, or revolu- 
tions, or famines, or volcanoes, but who were just equal to 
oversetting tea-urns, breaking china, carrying notes to 
wrong addresses, letting in unacceptable visitors, and keep- 
ing out our friends whom we wished to see, and organising 
all the petite guerre which is so constantly waged against 
our Christian patience. It is owing, I fancy, to the inter- 
vention of a whole hive of these little diablotins that I have 
postponed from day to day acknowledging your kind re- 
membrance, in hopes every post which arrived would give 
me leave to begin by assuring you that my matter in 
which you so kindly interest yourself is concluded. . . . 

the beautiful cottage you sent me! But there are 
practical objections affecting the extent and irregularity of 
roof, which in our severe climate can scarcely by any 
labour be kept water-tight where there are many flanks, 
I have borrowed several hints from it, however, and I will 
send you a plan and elevation of my intended cottage. I do 
not intend to begin it this next summer. There is a small 
farm-house on the place, into which by dint of compression 



237 



238 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Jan. 

I think I can cram my family. This will give me a year 
to prepare my accompaniments of wood, walks, and 
shrubbery, and moreover to save a little money, clear off 
old scores, and encounter my lime and mortar engage- 
ments courageously. During our short holidays I was 
working at Abbotsford in the midst of the snow for three 
days together; but I was recalled by my little people 
taking the measles — very favourably, however. I am 
afraid if I permit you to chuse a page between my two 
boys, you will desert the eldest for the youngest. Your 
original attendant is a boy of an excellent disposition, 
sensible, bold, and at the same time remarkably gentle and 
sweet-tempered; but the little fellow, if it please God to 
spare him, will turn out something uncommon, for he has 
a manner of thinking and expressing himself altogether 
original. You shall chuse, however, when you come to 
my cottage; but I shall not be surprised if a fair lady 
prefers the striking to the reasonable, especially when both 
are amiable and good-tempered. They are all recovering 
as well as possible. 

You ask about my business in the H. of Lords and my 
exceptions at Lord Holland. It was a very silly business, 
devised I believe by Lord Lauderdale, merely to injure 
my feelings, by mentioning the misfortunes of my brother, 
at a time and in a manner when it was impossible for 
me to have an opportunity of making any reply or 
defence. 1 . . . 

As to Lord Holland, of whom I always had a very 
different opinion, and who I think is (politics apart) a 
worthy and amiable man, I was only desirous he should 
know the next time he had occasion to mention any one's 
name in public, he would expose himself to disagreeable 
feelings in private if he did not fix his charge upon secure 
grounds. The feeling was born with me not to brook a 

1 See Life, vol. iii. pp. 234-40. 






1812] TO LADY ABERCORN 239 

disparaging look from an emperor, when I had the least 
means of requiting it in kind, and I have only to hope 
it is combined with the anxious wish never to deserve one 
were it from a beggar. 

I am not surprised that Tom Campbell x disappointed 
your expectations in society. To a mind peculiarly irritable, 
and galled, I fear, by the consciousness of narrow circum- 
stances, there is added a want of acquaintance with the 
usual intercourse of the world, which, like many other 
things, can only be acquired at an early period of life. 
Besides, I have always remarked that literary people think 
themselves obliged to take somewhat of a constrained 
and affected turn in conversation, seeming to consider 
themselves as less a part of the company, than something 
which the rest were come to see and wonder at. If your 
Ladyship's friendship is not too partial in supposing me 
less quizzical than my neighbours, it is not owing to any 
good sense of my own, but to the fortunate circumstances 
which connected me with good company, and led me to 
feel myself at home in it long before I made any literary 
essays. Since my success, I have always endeavoured to 
play my little part in society as quietly and good- 
humouredly as I could. — Ever your truly obliged, 

W. Scott. 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

n.d. [1812.] 

... I have got a beautiful design for my cottage from 
Stark of Glasgow, a young man of exquisite taste, and who 
must rise very high in his profession if the bad health 
under which he suffers does not keep him down or cut 

1 Scott knew Thomas Campbell two young poets met at an autumn 

well. An amusing instance is given gathering at Minto Castle. See Sir 

of the latter's shyness and unsocia- Gilbert Elliot's Life, and Beattie's 

bleness as early as 1802, when the Campbell. 



240 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Jan. 

him short. He has most gentlemanlike and amiable 
manners, and his whole appearance indicates genius, but 
not less clearly that it will be but shortlived; I was 
greatly concerned for him the few days he spent at 
Ashestiel with me. I do not intend to proceed upon this 
great adventure for a while as yet ; the little farm-house 
has five tolerable rooms in it, kitchen included, and if all 
come to all we can adopt your suggestion and make a bed 
in the barn ; so you see I keep the leeside of prudence in 
my proceedings. While I was watching my infant or 
rather my embryo oaks you have been wandering under 
the shade of those celebrated by Pope and Denham, or in 
a still earlier age by James and Chaucer. How often have 
you visited the site of Heme's oak and called up the 
imaginary train of personages who fill the stage around it 
in representation ? And was I obliged to your kindness 
or that of George Ellis for a bag of acorns from Windsor 
Forest which reached me lately ? I wish you had found 
each other out ; he is one of the most amiable and enter- 
taining men in the world, and his wife a good-humoured 
and lively woman. Their residence is at Sunning Hill, 
probably not very distant from yours. I conclude Dr. 
Baillie is now released from his melancholy and hopeless 
attendance on the Good old King; we are here alarm'd 
and stirr'd with unauthenticated rumours concerning the 
state of the Prince Regent's health. God forbid any of 
them be founded on truth. . . . — Ever, my dear friend, 
affectionately and respectfully yours, W. Scott. 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Edine., 23d January 1812. 

My dearest Friend, — I should be very unjust to your 
kindness did I not take an early opportunity to inform 
you that the pension business is at length completely and 



1812] TO LADY ABERCORN 241 

finally settled. ... I thought it proper after the pension 
had been fixed, to offer my colleague Mr. Home to make 
up to him any difference between his pension and what 
he formerly drew, which he has in part accepted. ... I 
delayed this information both that I might assure you of 
my final settlement with Mr. H., and also that I might 
send you a plan of my cottage. But though I have suc- 
ceeded in the former and most material point, the procras- 
tination of the architect, which, poor fellow, is owing to very 
precarious health, has hitherto prevented my sending the 
sketch and plan. We are now, my dearest friend, as com- 
fortable in our circumstances as even your kindness could 
wish us to be. Neither my wife nor I have the least wish 
to enlarge our expense in any respect, as indeed our 
present mode of life is of that decent kind which, without 
misbecoming our own situation, places us according to the 
fashions and habits of our country at liberty to mix in the 
best society here. So that we shall have a considerable 
saving fund for the bairns. . . . 

The good we meet with in this world is always blended 
with qualifying bitterness, and mine has been heavy 
enough. I do not reckon in this the anxiety I have 
experienced [on account of illness] in my family. 

. . . But what I must really set down as a calamity are 
the deaths of poor John Leyden and the excellent Duke of 
Buccleuch. The former was known to the Marquis. . . . 
The Duke of Buccleuch 1 had been long breaking, and I 
thought the last time I saw him (about a month before his 
death) that the hand of fate was upon him. Yet his family, 
accustomed to his daily and gradual decline, were not much 
alarmed, and the final close was very sudden, as he died in 
the arms of his son, who had been his nurse and secretary 
during his illness, and had scarcely ever quitted his room. 
He was buried on the 17th in the family vault at Dalkeith. 

1 Henry, third Duke of Buccleuch, died Jan. 11th, 1812. 
VOL. I. Q 



242 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Jan. 

and I never saw so many weeping eyes at the funeral of 
either high or low. Everything was by his own express 
desire as private as was possible, which indeed was 
necessary, for, considering that the whole border counties 
had expressed a desire to send in their Yeomanry and 
local Militia Corps, and his situation as Lord Lieu- 
tenant of this county, there would have been at least 
ten thousand men in attendance. As it was arranged, 
only forty or fifty noblemen and gentlemen were invited, 
who were connected with the family either by relationship, 
clanship, or strict friendship. The Duchess Dowager has 
behaved with the firmness of principle, supporting the 
whole family under their distress by her own strength of 
mind. My friend Lord Dalkeith succeeds to the power 
and fortune of his father, with some points which these 
evil times require ; for with all his father's good-nature he 
has something in him which will not allow it to be 
trampled upon, and I think that in our homely ballad 
rhyme he is likely to prove — 

a hedge about his friends, 

A heckle to his foes 

When I tell your Ladyship that a heckle is the many- 
toothed implement with which hemp is broken and 
scutched, I think you will understand the allusion. 

I mention these particulars because I believe your 
Ladyship is interested in the family. I hope soon to send 
you the drawings and plan ; meanwhile, I ever am, your 
Ladyship's truly obliged and faithful, W. S. 1 

1 Lady Abercorn replies — "As see you once by your own fireside 
your success in life is amongst the with all your family about you. 
very few things that can give me I could never see a man I more 
real pleasure, you may believe your highly respect and admire, and I 
two last letters have been most wel- do assure you I have more pride in 
come. I do most sincerely rejoice your calling me your dearest friend 
that the business is completely set- than I should in being so con- 
tied, and that you are now quite in- sidered by the greatest Monarch 
dependent of power and party. ... in the world." 
I hope before I leave this world to 



1812] TO MOKRITT 243 

TO MORRITT. 

Melrose, 2d March 1812. 

Your letter, my dear Morritt, found me in this place 
dirtying myself every morning to the knees in hopes of 
making clean walks for Mrs. Morritt at Abbotsford, and 
throwing my money, not indeed upon the waters, but upon 
the earth, in hopes of seeing it after many days, in the 
shape of shrubs and trees. The pleasure I have in this 
work, perhaps from its novelty, but I would fain hope 
from the nature of the thing itself, is indescribably interest- 
ing to me. I have got nature in a very naked state to 
work upon, but a brae, a haugh, and a fair river furnish good 
component parts, and the very trial and exertion necessary 
to make out the rest is happiness itself. It is very shame- 
ful in me to have been so long in acknowledging your 
kind information about your Memorabilia. My work 
Rokehy does and must go forward, or my trees and enclo- 
sures might perchance stand still. But I destroyed the 
first Canto after I had written it fair out, because it did 
not quite please me. I shall keep off people's kibes if I can, 
for my plan though laid during the civil wars has little to 
do with the politics of either party, being very much con- 
fined to the adventures and distresses of a particular 
family. 

I must certainly refresh my memory with the scenery, 
and brighten the chain of friendship at RoJceby before I 
can make great progress in my task. But your kind 
memoranda have helped me greatly in the meantime. I 
must unquestionably read Roncesvalles, 1 from which I ex- 
pect great pleasure. For reviewing it I can hardly under- 

1 Roncesvalles is the title of a sury poet " referred to was Charles 

poem by Richard Wharton, then Pybus, who was Commissioner from 

Secretary to the Treasury, which 1797 to 1803, and published a folio 

Morritt had recommended strongly in 1800 entitled the Sovereign. 
to Scott. The previous "Trea- 



244 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

take, considering the numerous and important affairs of 
Abbotsford on earth, and RoJceby on paper. If however 
I was sure that I could do it in a way to please the author, 
I should scarcely decline. Certainly he is the first Trea- 
sury poet since the splendid epistle of Paul Pybus, and 
should therefore be encouraged by his brethren, as a rich 
man is always considered as a credit to his relations. 

I was once the most enormous devourer of the Italian 
romantic poetry, which indeed is the only poetry of their 
country which I ever had much patience for ; for after all 
that has been said of Petrarch and his school, I am always 
tempted to exclaim like honest Christopher Sly, "Mar- 
vellous good matter, would it were done." But with 
Charlemagne and his paladins I could dwell for ever. 

I grieve to hear of Lady Aberdeen's disorder, so young 
and beautiful, and apparently so good and amiable. 1 But 
consumption seems often to seize upon those victims 
whom we would most wish to exempt from its grasp. 
Her brother Lord Hamilton is, I am afraid, dying of the 
same disorder. 

That Lady Hood should have been so far removed 
from us and her friends is a hard circumstance. But I 
comfort myself with the reflection that it was right for her 
to go. India will amuse her better than she expects. 
She will like the splendour and the dignity of her situa- 
tion. She will also be in her right place, and that is 
everything, where keen feeling and great vivacity are 
predominant. . . . The good old Duke of Buccleuch is 
also dead, and has not left a kinder or more generous 
heart behind him. If you meet the present Duke in 
London, in society, pray make up to him on my recom- 
mendation and in my name. He is a good cut of a Border 
chief, firm, manly, and well-principled, and only differing 
from his father by having something in him that will not 

1 Lady Aberdeen died 29th February 1812. 



1812] TO MORRITT 245 

make it safe to return his kindness with ingratitude, and 
then to apply for fresh favours, which was often success- 
fully practised on his father. . . , 



FROM JOANNA BAILLIE. 

March 4th t 1812. • 

. . . But to return to my purse ; * I hope you will like 
it, and I have made it strong enough that your heavy gold 
coins may not break thro' it. If it should do you little 
good, it has done me a great deal ; for I have worked with 
pleasure at it for some time past, when I could be pleased 
with no other employment. It put me in mind of an old 
woman in Hamilton who was haunted by the Deil ; and 
she got some flax to spin from my mother, which proved 
a great blessing to her, for she returned in a few days, 
telling my mother with great delight that as long as 
she was employed in spinning the minister's yarn the 
Beil had no power over her. Don't suppose, however, 
that working for you has charmed down a very evil spirit, 
though I confess it has had power over a dull, and often 
a very cross one. 

We have all admired the old mouth-piece, and long 
much to know the history of it, if any there be, besides its 
being old. 

I doubt the Laird of Abbotsford has not told me 
truly and honestly all the rooms that are to be in his 
new house, and that the museum-room has been omitted. 
Rob Roy's armour (for I suppose you have got it; pray 
let me know if you have), this purse, with its old coins, 
and many other things gathered and to be gathered, must 
require a place to be kept in, and we shall see there some 
years hence a collection like that at Strawberry Hill — the 

1 For an account of the silk Scott's "Nicknacketories," see Life, 
purse knitted by Joanna Baillie for vol. iii. pp. 392-3. 



246 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

collection of a poetical, sentimental antiquarian, where 
such things as the gloves of Mr. Hampden have their 
value, along with the armour of Francis the First. But 
I hope this room will be filled with contributions from 
your numerous admirers, rather than purchases from 
curiosity-brokers; tho' your last friendly letter has in- 
formed me of what gives me great pleasure, and I ought 
not now to be so much alarmed at the liberality and 
magnificence of your ideas. Well may you prosper, and 
fortunate may you be all your life long ! and may those 
you leave behind you be so also ! 

It was very kind of you to tell me of the happy change 
in what regards the salary of your office, and since it is 
told me in confidence I shall keep it for my own private 
satisfaction. To encourage you in your prospects as a 
country laird, I must tell you that the trees I planted in 
Gloucestershire are doing well, and the land on which they 
are planted is nearly doubled in value since my brother 
purchased it about 7 years ago. He then paid £30,000 
for it, and he could sell it now for £55,000. I must say, 
however, he has spent or misspent nearly £10,000 upon 
it. But I must say no more on this subject lest you 
think me entirely worldly in my sympathy for my friends. 
Now, though I do wish those I love to be comfortably 
rich, it is not the first blessing I think of on their behal£ 
To see how your laurels flourish in this country, growing 
every year deeper in root and sturdier in stem, gives 
me more pleasure than all the lands of Abbotsford. . . . 
I suppose you know that your brother-poet Campbell is 
going soon to give Lectures on Poetry at the British 
Institution. Mr. Sotheby has persuaded him into this, 
and I hope he will do himself credit. His remuneration 
is to be, I understand, £200 for 6 lectures. I hope 
his Scotch tongue will not stand greatly in the way of 
his popularity; but in reading specimens of poetry to 



1812] FROM JOANNA BAILLIE 247 

an English audience it must be a considerable disadvan- 
tage, for bis is a bad kind of Scotch. 1 

TO THE DUCHESS OF BUCCLEUCH. 

Abbotsford, 20th March 1812. 

Madam, — I am just honoured with your Grace's 
commission, which you may depend upon my executing 
with all possible delicacy on my return to Edinburgh, 
which takes place on Monday. The poor bard (I will 
not, as my prdcieuse friend Miss Seward once expressed 
herself, name his thrice unpoetical name) is, I fear, a 
person whom it will indeed be difficult to serve to any 
essential purpose ; yet nature has been liberal to him in 
many respects, and it is perhaps hard for those born under 
better auspices to censure his deficencies very severely. 

I am here as busy as possible, dressing up this little 
spot, which is, to say truth, as bare a doll as any of your 
Grace's young ladies ever made bibs and tuckers for. But 
the Spaniards have a comfortable proverb, namely : " Time 
and I against any other two." I was much surprised and 
gratified by Mr. Macdonald's 2 kind and most acceptable 
attention, who sent me some beautiful fruit trees of his 
own grafting, which I have just seen carefully planted. 
This is being a counsellor in good earnest, not only to give 
advice, but the means of following it. I trust one day, like 
good Master Justice Shallow, to press the Duke to stay and 
eat a last year's pippin of my own raising. . . . 

TO HIS DAUGHTER. 

Mertoun House, 19th April 1812. 
My dear Sophia, — Mama and I got your letter, and 

i Scott replies: "I think the but I never heard him read. " — Life, 

brogue may be got over if he will vol. iii. p. 392. 
not trouble himself by attempting 

to correct it, but read with fire and 2 Mr. Macdonald, head-gardener 

feeling ; he is an animated reciter, to the Duke. 



248 



SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS 



[April 



are happy to think that our little people are all well and 
happy. 

In Lord Hailes' Annals you will find a good deal about 
Melrose Abbey, which you must fix in your recollection, as 
we are now going to live so near it. It was founded by 
David the First, one of the best of our Scottish kings. 
We have had very cold weather here indeed, but to-day it 
is more favourable. The snow and frost has prevented 
things getting on at Abbotsford so well as I could wish, 
but a great deal has been done. 

I expect to find that Walter has plied his lessons hard, 
and given satisfaction to Mr. Brown, and Ann and Charles 
are I daresay both very good children. You must kiss them 
all for me, and pat up little Wallace. 1 Finette 2 has been 
lame, but she is now quite well. I beg you will remember 



1 The following letter is indorsed 
in Scott's hand, "Mr. William 
Dunlop, with a dog christened 
Wallace." . . . 

Glasgow, July 5th, 1809. 
Dear Sir, 

It is nearly two years ago, when 
availing myself of your polite hos- 
pitality at Ashestiel, that I under- 
took to procure you a West Country 
(Scotch) Terrier. I found the task 
more difficult than I imagined, as 
the breed which I had in view is 
now very scarce, nor indeed do I 
believe I would have been able to 
fulfil my engagement, had it not 
been for the assistance of my friend 
Miss Dunlop of Dunlop. As soon 
as ever she understood for whom 
the animal I was in quest of was 
intended, Dunlop, Stewarton, and 
all the neighbouring parishes were 
unsuccessfully ransacked, nor would 
the young gentleman who will be 
delivered to you along with this, 
have ever barked, had it not been 
for the trouble this lady took in 



accomplishing a conference between 
his Dame and Sire . . . who had 
hitherto resided in different parts of 
Ayrshire. In truth he was brought 
into the world for the express pur- 
pose, as she wrote me, of showing 
her gratitude to the Poet who had 
so often beguiled and delighted the 
solitary life she leads. I wish, after 
all this, he may turn out worth 
sending. All that I can say of the 
race is, that in addition to fighting, 
killing rats, drawing badgers, and 
such like canine accomplishments, 
they are noted for sagacity and 
companionableness. If you mean 
to perform any operation on his 
tail or ears, it is now full time. 
He has, as you will perceive, hitherto 
been kept sacred. . . . Believe me, 
your obliged and faithful servant, 
Will Dunlop. 

2 A beautiful setter with soft 
silken hair, long pendant ears, and 
a mild eye, "the parlour favourite, " 
as she appeared to Washington 
Irving five years later. 



1812] TO HIS DAUGHTER 249 

me to Grandmama when you see her, and also present 
my kind compliments and Mama's to Miss Miller. 1 We 
are now at Mertoun, but return to Ashestiel to-morrow, 
and I think we shall be at home on Thursday or Friday, 
so the cook can have something ready for us, — a beef-steak 
or mutton-chop — in case we are past your dinner-hour. 
Tell Walter I will not forget his great cannon, and believe 
me, my dear Sophia, your affectionate Papa, 

Walter Scott. 

to m. w. hartstonge. 

Ashestiel, 20th April 1812. 

Dear Sir, — ... I have been shaping a tale of the 
civil war, in which an Irishman makes a conspicuous 
character. I only hope I shall be able to express in it my 
sense of the high qualities of a nature more nearly allied 
to my own than the fire of the former and the prudence 
of the latter is always willing to admit. An Irishman, to 
use the phrase of the kitchen, with which I am just now 
much at home, for old Macbeth, 2 Charlotte and I and the 
lame dairy-maid, are keeping house by ourselves, and all 
club their skill to make up the dinner, — an Irishman then, 
comes a little sooner to the boiling heat than we do, and 
we on the contrary smother in our caution, not only the 
flash which offends, but the gleams that cheer and delight 
society. We both endure hardships better than our im- 
perial neighbours of England, but the Scotchman does it 
through hope of better, and the Irishman through a gay 
indifference, in which he has this great advantage, that as 
he hopes for nothing, he cannot be disappointed. I need 
not add that with all this national interest I am delighted 
with every anecdote of Irish manners and antiquities. I 
delight in O'Neal of the nine hostages and all his 

1 The children's governess. to be addressed by Kemble at 

2 The Scotch butler, who used Ashestiel, as " Cousin Macbeth." 



250 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [May 

paraphernalia of warriors and creaghts, out of which more 
of the picturesque parts of poetry may be wrought than 
out of a dozen battles of Jena or Austerlitz. The Edin- 
burgh Register is shortly to be forthcoming, and I have 
long delayed writing to you, because I expected to send 
you a proof sheet of the Trumpet and Church Bell} with 
which I have taken great liberties. You will find the 
poem remains entirely yours in language and sentiment, 
but is considerably expanded, somewhat changed in ar- 
rangement, and a good deal chastised as to rhymes, in 
which you are not uniformly correct, which is not prudent, 
because it is a fault every fool can discover. 

As the poem stands, there is not a line in it of which 
the germ did not exist in your hurried sketch ; and I think, 
tho' my part has only been that of the painter or plasterer 
to the mansion already built, you will find it improved, 
and will not be displeased with me for putting your name 
in front of it. . . . 



TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Abbotsfoed, by Melrose, 
3d May 1812. 

Judging, my dearest friend, of the distress in which 
you must have been involved by the late most unhappy 
incident, 2 1 have not ventured to interrupt it by any letter 
of mine ; sensible I could offer no consolation but that which 
is naturally derived from the lapse of time, and the respect 
which we owe to the decrees of Providence. Alas ! when 
I think of the inroads made by fate upon the social circle 
I met at the Priory some years ago, and upon our mutual 
friends, it seems like recollecting another world. To the 

1 The verses as revised by Scott 2 The death of Lord Abercorn's 

are in the Annual Register, vol. iii. daughter, the Countess of Aber- 
pt. 2, p. xciii. deen. 



1812] TO LADY ABERCORN 251 

two dear and valuable members of the family, I may add 
that of Lord Melville, your ardent and firm friend, and of 
others with whom we are mutually connected. Even the 
death of the Duchess of Gordon, 1 though certainly a person 
not to be mentioned in the same breath with any of the 
others, is a striking deprivation. She filled a certain place 
in Scottish society, and will be missed both from the good 
and the harm which she did in it. . . . 

My own little matters being all settled, I have been 
amusing myself with planting and decorating as well as 
I can the banks of the Tweed at Abbotsford, which is the 
name of my own possession. Your Ladyship may believe 
that where no one else can see anything but fallow and 
broom and furze, I am anticipating lawn and groves. This 
horrid weather, however, bids fair to baffle my hopes for 
one season at least. 

I am very apprehensive of the consequences of a 
scarcity at this moment, especially from the multitude 
of French prisoners, 2 who are scattered through the small 
towns in this country, as I think very improvidently. As 
the peace of this county is intrusted to me, I thought it 
necessary to state to the Justice Clerk that the arms of 
the local militia were kept without any guard in a ware- 
house at Kelso; that there was nothing to prevent the 
prisoners there, at Selkirk, and at Jedburgh, from joining 
any one night, and making themselves master of that 
depot; that the Sheriffs of Roxburgh and Selkirk, in 
order to put down such a commotion, could only command 
about three troops of yeomanry to be collected from a 
great distance, and these were to attack about 500 dis- 
ciplined men, who in the event supposed, would be fully 
provided with arms and ammunition, and. might, if any 

i The Duchess Jane died in Lon- 2 There were about 50,000 French 

don, and her remains were interred prisoners in Britain at this time, 
at Kinrara at her own request. 



252 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [May 

alarm should occasion the small number of troops now 
at Berwick to be withdrawn, make themselves masters of 
that seaport, the fortifications of which, although ruinous, 
would serve to defend them until cannon was brought 
- against them. A beautiful confusion this would make in the 
present unsettled state of the manufacturers in the north 
of England. Truly, though not very ambitious of a hang- 
man's office, I think I could willingly do that good turn 
for some of the orators of the London Common Hall, who 
are, for the pleasure of hearing themselves talk, doing 
incalculable mischief by inflaming the minds of the 
common people through the whole country. 

Is not the change of parties like a dream, and did you 
ever see anything so like a game at commerce as the 
opposition picking up the Princess of Wales so soon as 
they had lost the Prince Eegent ? We addressed him on 
the 30th April at the Head Court, where they put me in 
the chair, and made me draw the county address. 

I have nothing to add, my dearest friend, except that 
I long to have a line from you, were it only to say how the 
Marquis is. I trust the late increase of Lord H.'s family 
has had some effect in alleviating his distress. God pity 
poor Lord Aberdeen — he has had a heavy blow. 1 — Ever, 
dear Lady Abercorn, your truly, faithful, and respectful, 

W. Scott. 

TO MORRITT. 

Wh May 1812. 

My dear Morritt, — Nothing can exceed the tale of 
the silver chalice. I will maintain that in point of law 
the question it afforded was a prettier point to be mooted 

1 Lord Aberdeen's grief was so pathetic entries as "Vidi!" "Vidi 
intense at this time, and for many sed obscuriorem," " Verissima dul- 
months afterwards, that he believed cissima imago," are of frequent 
the spirit of his young wife appear- occurrence. . . . — See Sir A. Gor- 
ed to him almost daily. In a very don's Memoir, p. 18. 
sacred diary kept by him such 



1812] TO MOERITT 253 

than the celebrated question of the black and white horses. 
What would the Civilians Benkerschorkius and Pagen- 
stecherus 1 have made of it, if they had come to dispute 
whether form or substance should be the rule of classifying 
this renown'd utensil ; and if the schoolmen had got upon 
such a topic, what a mist of metaphysics would the splen- 
did vase have been involved in ? Truly Lucky Finlayson's 
apostrophe was but a faint and fleeting ejaculation com- 
pared to this kindly and doughty altercation. I hope the 
Lady will not prove so far dissatisfied with the fame of 
this luminous piece of household goods as to leave it 
at home, and reconcile herself to more humble con- 
veniences upon the next excursion. She cannot, I fear, 
hope to give any other implement the same celebrity 
which the beautiful Duchess of Hamilton conferred upon 
a superb china punch-bowl, long preserved at the Inn of 
Howgate, near Edinburgh, and never produced by the 
Landlady, Jenny Dods, without relating the circumstances 
to which it owed its renown. I would therefore have her 
abide by her vessel of Potosi, which I trust will yet afford 
us more sport. I would have it stolen and recovered, and 
an objection taken to the indictment of the thief, that the 
vessel he had abstracted was inaccurately described as a 
silver tankard. By-the-bye, such pieces of plate seem to 
be singularly liable to occasion odd scrapes. There is a 
huge implement of this metal at Arniston, not reserved 
for the commodity of any individual, but usually brought 
in after dinner, when there is a large company, for the 
general use and benefit. It chanced one unlucky day that 
there was a good deal of singing after dinner, which de- 
tained the ladies some time longer in the eating- room than 
was usual. The bell was rung for some purpose or other, 
when, to the utter astonishment and confusion of all pre- 
sent, the ancient Butler, a man of a most reverend and 

1 See Heart of Midlothian, W. N. (48 vols.), vol. xi. p. 377. 



254 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [August 

dignified appearance, having no doubt that it was the well- 
known signal, stalked into the room bearing in both hands 
this brilliant heirloom, equally remarkable for its huge 
size and its antique appearance, which however admitted 
of no equivocation respecting its use. He had fairly- 
marched to the top of the room and placed his burden on 
its usual throne, before he perceived his blunder. His 
exclamation of " God forgive me," his hasty retreat, shroud- 
ing with a napkin the late object of his solemn entry, and 
the confusion of the good company, may be more easily 
conceived than described. This story the Chief Baron tells 
with great humour. 

I agree very much in what you say of Ghilde Harold. 
Though there is something provoking and insulting both 
to morality and to feeling in his misanthropical humour, 
it gives nevertheless an odd pungency to his descriptions 
and reflections, and upon the whole it is a poem of most 
extraordinary power, and may rank its author with our first 
poets. I see the Edinburgh Review has haul'd its wind, 
which I suppose is as much owing to Lord Byron's political 
conversion as to their conviction of his increasing powers. 
. . . What say you of Lord Wellington? If these 
faineants who have been the bane of the Spanish cause do 
not prevent its success, I think nothing else ultimately 
will prevail against it. 

As for the house and the poem, there are twelve 
masons hammering at the one, and one poor noddle at the 
other, so they are both in progress. Charlotte begs her 
kindest respects to Mrs. Morritt, and hoping to hear from 
you soon, I am, ever truly yours, Walter Scott. 

TO CHARLES CARPENTER. 

Abbotsford, August Uh t 1812. 
As we advance in life our social comforts are gradually 
abridged. Do think of this, my dear Carpenter, and come 



1812] TO C. CARPENTER 255 

back to Britain while the circle of your friends is not 
materially diminished. I am happy to see, from your last 
expressions, that affairs promise to let you escape from 
India in a year or two. As health is better than wealth, I 
trust you will hasten the period of your return as much as 
possible, and pray send us early intelligence, as I shall 
make a point to meet you in London at least, if not at 
Portsmouth. Our private affairs continue prosperous, and j 
our family healthy ; they are all fine children, but little 
Charles, the youngest, promises to possess extraordinary 
talent. My income has been greatly increased by my 
predecessor, or rather colleague in office, being placed by 
Government upon a superannuated pension, which gave 
me access to almost all the emoluments of the office, to 
which otherwise I would only have succeeded after his 
death. To bring this about was one of the last labours of 
poor Lord Melville, whose steady friendship for me was 
active in my favour to the very verge of his life. En- 
couraged by this good fortune, my lease of Ashestiel being 
out, and it being necessary as Sheriff that I should reside 
in Selkirkshire occasionally, I have bought a farm of about 
120 acres lying along the side of the Tweed. ... I have set 
to work to plant and to improve, and I hope to make Abbots- 
ford a very sweet little thing in the course of a few years. 
Till we shall have leisure and time and money to build a 
little mansion, we have fixed our residence in the little 
farm-house, where our only sitting-room is about twelve feet 
square, and all the others in proportion : so that, upon the 
whole, we live as if we were on board ship. But besides 
the great amusement I promise myself in dressing this 
little farm, it is convenient and pleasant as lying in my 
native country and among those to whom I am most 
attached by relationship and friendship. We have also a 
very pleasant friend of yours in our neighbourhood, the 
fine old veteran, General Goudie. He lives about three 



256 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Sept. 

miles from us, and was here the other morning as keen as 
a school-boy about a fishing party to a small lake in our 
vicinity ; he and I have a debate about a new harpoon for 
sticking salmon, which he invented, and which I have the 
boldness to think I have altered and improved ; he speaks 
very often of you and will be delighted to see you. . . . 
Domestic matters are not so comfortable; there have 
been, as you will see from the papers, very serious dis- 
turbances among the manufacturers of the Midland 
Counties, which by the mistaken lenity of Government 
have been suffered to assume an alarming degree of 
organisation. Correspondences have been carried on by 
the malcontents through every manufacturing town in 
England and Scotland, and the infection had even reached 
the little thriving community of Galashiels, a flourishing 
village in my district. I was not long, however, of break- 
ing these associations and securing their papers; the 
principal rogue escaped me, for having heard I was 
suddenly come into the place, he observed, " It 's not for 
nought that the hawk whistles," and so took to the hills 
and escaped. 

Charlotte is in very good health, and begs her kindest 
remembrances. She proposes to write, but I will not 
vouch for her letter, knowing her talents for procrastina- 
tion in such matters. There is a noble estate with a fine 
old house and park to be sold within ten miles of us. I 
wish you were here to buy it, as it would suit you very 
well for a summer residence. Charlotte joins in kindest 
regards to Mrs. Carpenter, and believe me, dear Carpenter, 
ever your affectionate friend, Walter Scott. 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Abbotsford, 2nd September 1812. 

My dear Lady Marchioness, — I have not heard from 
you this long time, at which I begin to be a little fretted, 



1812] TO LADY ABERCORN 257 

as I am very desirous to know what your Ladyship and the 
Marquis are doing. We saw the Kembles a day in Edinr. 
where I went on purpose from this place to see him 
on the stage. I think he played Coriolanus and Cato as 
near perfection as I can conceive theatrical performance. 
His whole appearance in the former was the patrician 
warrior, and in Cato the Stoic senator and patriot. It was 
absolutely enchanting, and formed one of the few exhibi- 
tions which I could have seen begun again when the curtain 
had dropped. 

Here I am in full possession of my kingdom of Barataria. 
. . . We are ail screwed into the former farmhouse. Our 
single sitting-room is twelve feet square, and the room above 
it subdivided for cribs to the children; an old coal-hole 
makes our cellar, a garret above the little kitchen with a 
sort of light closet make bedroom and dressing-room, 
decorated — lumbered, my wife says — with all my guns, 
pistols, targets, broadswords, bugle-horns, and old armour. 
Then I have the livelong day to toil among masons and 
workmen not few in number, for I assembled forty or fifty 
round a bonfire on the news of the battle of Salamanca. 
To be sure there was the attraction of an ocean of whisky- 
punch, which brought in several occasional recruits. The 
banks of the Tweed looked very merry on this glorious 
occasion, and the light of the various bonfires reminded 
me of the old times when they were kindled for another 
purpose — 

" Red glared the beacon on Pownell, 
On Eildon hills were three, 
The bugle-horns on moor and fell 
Were heard continually." 

The bugle-horns, however, have given way to the pipes 
and violins, which were all put into requisition on the 
occasion, and the people — at least my subjects — danced 
almost the whole night. As for my more grave occupa- 

VOL. I. R 



258 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [Sept. 

tions, my little plantation is thriving very well, and my 
offices are in a fair way of being completed. I have also 
got a good wall built around a sheltered and fertile spot of 
about three-quarters of an acre, which I hope will make a 
clever little garden. In the meantime, I am not a little 
puzzled in my attempts to acquire some knowledge of 
shrubs and trees, especially those that are not indigenous. I 
am reduced to such shifts that I asked a lady the other day 
what shrub it was that had a leaf like a saddle, and was 
much edified by learning that it was the tulip-tree. By such 
awkward steps do learners ascend the ladder of knowledge. 

I am puzzling my brains about a poem called Rokeby. 
I have had it long in hand, but I threw the whole into the 
fire about a month since, being satisfied that I had corrected 
the spirit out of it, as a lively pupil is sometimes flogged 
into a dunce by a severe schoolmaster. Since I have 
resumed the pen in my old Cossack manner, I have 
succeeded rather more to my own mind. It is a tale of 
the Civil Wars in 1643, but has no reference to history or 
politics, only embracing the adventures and distresses of a 
particular family of Cavaliers. 

Adieu ! my dear friend. All this nonsense is meant to 
extort from you an answer; let it but say you and the 
family are well, and, howsoever short, it will be most ac- 
ceptable to your truly faithful and respectful, 

Walter Scott. 

FROM LADY ABERCORN. 

Sept. 1812. 

My dear Friend, — I cannot deny but that I have 
been a little angry with you, for it is now about 3 months 
since I was told that you were writing a poem, and that 
the subject was of the Civil Wars and the end of Charles 
the ist's time. I concluded, as I had done before when others 
of your poems were announced to me, that it was a story, 



1812] FROM LADY ABERCORN 259 

for I was certain you would have told me as soon as any 
one ; but I now am used to it, and shall always believe 
all your acquaintances know everything before me. So 
much for that, but in the meantime I am not the less 
anxious to read it, and shall send for one as soon as it 
comes out. I make no doubt of its merit, but I confess I 
wonder whether, if you have not seriously destroyed the 
first, you would let me read it. I really cannot bear the idea 
that you should have consigned to the flames so much of 
your writing, which I make no doubt, though it might be 
inferior to your Cossack manner, is still better than any 
one else could do, and if you have a mind to make your 
peace with me let me have it ; you may send it by the 
mail, it will come very safe. . . . Lord Aberdeen left us 
nearly two months ago. He was here about six weeks with 
his 3 children, and I do really think they are as lovely 
children as I ever saw. His eldest daughter (they are all 
girls) is without exception the cleverest girl I ever saw. 
She is about five years old, and quite a magnificent-looking 
child, with a still more magnificent understanding. If 
you should see them, observe that creature. She used 
every day to have a new poem or new fable to repeat to 
Lord Abercorn after dinner, and she repeated as well as 
Kemble could. I certainly think her quite a prodigy. 
Lord Aberdeen was better in spirits than I could have 
hoped, but it will be long before he recovers himself. 1 

TO LADY LOUISA STUAKT. 

20th Sept. 1812. 

My deae Lady Louisa, — Your most encouraging, as 
well as beautiful verses, joined to our friend Morritt's 
remonstrances, have given a new spur to the sides of my 
intent, and I wrote to Morritt that I would make a raid on 
him with bag and baggage, scrip and scrippage, about 

1 These attractive children all died young. 



260 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Sept. 

Monday. But just after my letter was despatched, I was 
made acquainted that my attendance was indispensable 
upon the 5th, at a meeting of Mr. Don's friends pre- 
paratory to the head court of Free-holders on the 6th, for 
that my eloquence was to be put in requisition for that 
day. Mr. Don is, you know, the Duke of Buccleuch's 
candidate for Roxburghshire, and I believe the Duke has 
few things of a political nature more at heart than his 
success, so I must do my possible, however little that may 
be. The only effect this will have is to expedite my 
journey somewhat, as my stay will be rather more brief at 
Rokeby than I had reckoned upon this morning. On 
Thursday night we sleep at Edgerston, upon the border, 
Friday at Carbridge or Hexham, and I hope we shall find 
it possible to get to Rokeby Saturday night, as the distance 
cannot be above forty miles. But if bad roads, etc. render 
this impossible, which is likely enough, we shall, God 
willing, be at Rokeby on Sunday before dinner, where I 
trust we shall still find your Ladyship a tenant of that 
hospitable mansion. 

The poem has no fault unless I could find in my heart 
to wish it had a more worthy subject, but I am not able 
to bring my mind to that point of self-denial, so I can 
only promise to do my best to merit the encouragement 
your Ladyship so kindly gives me. I do not greatly fear the 
professed critics if I can possibly keep hold of the reading 
public, which can only be done by an interesting narrative. 

"Ugly Meg" is a much larger drawing than any at 
Bothwell, on another, and I think an improved plan. 
I hope one day to exhibit it to your Ladyship in this 
little cottage. 1 . . . 

I can add no more, being interrupted by two matters of 
great consequence. The first is to plan out of some debris 
dug out of the rubbish of the Abbey at Melrose, a Gothic 

1 A sketch by C. K. Sharpe. 



1812] TO LADY LOUISA STUART 261 

front to a Well ; 1 the other, to buy if possible some acres 
of ground on a little lake about a mile from my cottage, 
which is exactly the lake of the Fisherman and Genii. — 
Meanwhile, believe me, with great respect, dear Lady 
Louisa, your Ladyship's much honoured and obliged 
humble servant, Walter Scott. 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

Abbotsford, Oct. 11th, 1812. 

My dear Miss Baillie, — ... As for Roheby, I am 
now working at it in my old Cossack manner, after destroy- 
ing a whole canto, in which I attempted refinement and 
elegance. I have revisited the scenery, and fortunately 
met good weather. My eldest boy and girl went with 
Mrs. Scott and me, and as we crossed, recrossed, and 
quartered the border counties, I think they heard border 
history enough to sicken them of it for their whole lives. 
My boy, on his little pony, rode about five-and-twenty 
miles a day with me without being fatigued, and was 
sometimes relieved by his sister. 

I am sorry the Quarterly Review has been savage on 
Mrs. Barbauld, 2 for whose talents I have had long and 
sincere respect. But I cannot condemn the principle of 
their criticism, and I imagine Mrs. B. herself will admit 
that it will be long ere the renown of Lord Wellington is 
eclipsed by that of General Hull. 3 In fact, I detest 

1 To Hartstonge, Oct. 29th, Scott AVE, SANCTE, WALDAVE." 
wrote: — "I have just finished a The structure may still be seen in 
well, constructed out of a few of the grounds. 

the broken stones taken up in „ A .,. . - ,, 

, . ., I,-, p tv/t, A very severe criticism of Mrs 

clearing the rubbish from Melrose -r, , ,,, ,.,, , .,,,. ,. 

... ° . . ,. . Barbauld s poem entitled "Eighteen 

Abbey at removing the modern TT . . , ™ „ ° , . 

. , T , . . , i t j Hundred and Eleven appeared in 

church. It makes a tolerable de- ,, , ... XT . ^ _ v T 

.. -iii . i . onn the 14ttl No. of the Quarterly. 

ception, and looks at least 300 

years old. In honour of an old 3 An American general whose 

Melrose Saint I have put an in- strategy had not been successful 

scription in a Gothic Latin verse in the invasion of Canada, July 

written in these characters, AVE, 1812. 



262 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

croaking ; if true, it is unpatriotic, and if false, worse. As 
to my simple self, I am sensible of the value of Mrs. 
Barbauld's own approbation, but I would, were it in my 
power, blow up the ruins of Melrose Abbey and burn all 
the nonsensical rhymes I ever wrote, if I thought either 
the one or other could survive the honour or independence 
of my country. My only ambition is to be remembered, if 
remembered at all, as one who knew and valued national 
independence, and would maintain it in the present 
struggle to the last man and the last guinea, though the 
last guinea were my own property and the last man my 
own son. 1 

To a more pleasing subject, — our little improvements 
get on here pretty well. I have a noble spring, which 
I have enclosed and covered with a Gothic front. ... It 
is on the side of a steep bank, and I intend that willows 
and weeping birches shall droop over it with a background 
of evergreens. In the bank which stretches along our 
haugh, I have placed various trees and fringed the whole 
with shrubs. I have also planted many thousand acorns, 
which begin to make a great show, the future oaks being 
nearly as tall as your knitting needle. I wanted to sow 
birch with them, but found it difficult, or rather im- 
possible to get good seed, which is extraordinary, as this is 
certainly the country of birches. We are now in the fury 
of a contested election for Roxburghshire, which will turn 
on a very narrow majority either way, which must be my 
apology for not bestowing all my tediousness on you. . . . 

1 In her poem Mrs. Barbauld crossing the Atlantic to contem- 

presaged the decadence of this plate the sacred ruins of England, 

country and the increase of America as tourists now do those of Greece, 

in arts, arms, and virtue. In her London overthrown, deserted, and 

vision of the future she saw youth- desolate, but Melrose Abbey pre- 

ful pilgrims, served from further decay by the 

"From the Blue Mountains or Ontario's g enius of Scott !— See Quarterly 

Lake," Bevieiv, vol. vii. p. 311. 



1812] TO SOUTHEY 263 



TO SOUTHEY. 

Edinr., 26th Nov. [1812.] 

I have been seldom more mortified than at finding 
myself this October within 20 miles of you without having 
it in my power, as the Fates would have it, to turn aside for 
the purpose of brightening the chain. But I was just set 
forward on my little tour when the General Election burst 
upon us like a shot, and as our county was to be fiercely 
contested, I had only time to spend three days at Rokeby, 
where for some twenty reasons I would have liked to have 
stayed a week, and then I hurried over Stainmore as fast as 
possible to lend my most sweet voice to a losing contest. 

I heard at Rokeby of your pilgrimage to the head of 
the Tees, which seems to have been as desperate a job as 
my old acquaintance Bruce's to the head of the Nile. I 
hope you liked Morritt as well as he liked you ; * he has 
great kindness and worth, good talent, and I fancy great 
scholarship; above all he has a sound, healthy, honest 
English understanding, which I begin to think worth all 
the talent and learning in the world. 

Now let me thank you for the Omniana? which I need 
not say highly amused me. Some trifles I can add: you 
were right in your original idea that Lord Herbert of 
Cherbury conceived himself to be odoriferous in person, 
although Henry More had the same whim. It was prob- 
ably, I think, rather some perversion of the nose than any 
peculiar fragrance of the pores. I daresay with a certain 
degree of early training a man's organ of smelling might 
distinguish flavours as well as a common cur if he did not 
reach the accuracy of the pointer. I knew an old lady 

1 For Southey's own impressions 2 Two vols, of the Omniana were 

of this pleasant visit, see letter to published in 1812. There were a 

his wife, July 23d, 1812, printed in few articles by Coleridge in it. 
vol. ii. of Life and Correspondence. 



264 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

who really could smell partridges in the stubble as well as 
you or I might smell them on the spit. It is a pity she 
did not take the field, for as she persevered in wearing a 
small hoop and long ruffles, she would have pointed with 
admirable effect. Of Baron Munchausen I can tell you 
something. Some years ago in London I was a little 
startled at hearing a foreigner ushered under this title 
into a musical party. As this naturally led to inquiries 
on my part, I was referred to the gentleman himself, who 
very good-humouredly told me he was the nephew of the 
celebrated Baron Munchausen, who was a minister under 
Frederick of Prussia. It seems the old Baron was a 
humourist, who after dinner, especially if he happened to 
have any guests who were likely to be taken in by his 
marvels, used to amuse himself by inventing or retailing 
such marvellous adventures as are contained in the 
volumes which bear his name. He added, his uncle was in 
other respects a sensible, veracious man, and that his ad- 
ventures were only told by the way of quizzing or amus- 
ing society. A starving German literatus, whose name I 
have forgot, who knew the Baron and thought he had 
been neglected by him, compiled the book in revenge, 
partly from the stories of the Baron, partly from other 
sources, and partly from his mother wit. It proved a 
good hit for the bookseller, as the Baron's name and 
humour was well known, and by degrees made its way into 
other countries as a book of entertainment. The Baron 
Munchausen whom I knew was a grave serious sort of a 
person, a good deal embarrassed by a title which required 
eternal explanations, and only remarkable for the zeal with 
which he kept grinding musical glasses the whole evening. 
I had some other trifles to say, but as I am writing at our 
table in the Court, the noise of lawyers and wrangling 
drives them out of my head. — Ever yours, 

Walter Scott. 



1812] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 265 



TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

Edinburgh, Nov. 27, 1812. 
. . . This will attend about one half of Rokeby; the 
latter part is incorrect, being the proofs before they were 
corrected, but you will easily be able to allow for their im- 
perfections. I would have sent this packet sooner, but we 
only came to town a few days since, and I have been very 
busy since with the Peers' election, and one vile thing or 
another. Besides, I wanted to send you that part of the 
story where I was so unlucky as to run my head against 
your ladyship's, which cost me the re-writing of my 
Robber's song. 1 When you have amused yourself with all 
this harum-scarum stuff, will you have the goodness to get 
a cover from our obliging friend Mr. Freeling, addressed to 
J. B. S. Morritt, Esq., Rokeby, Greta Bridge, Yorkshire, 
who is very curious to know what I have said of his beau- 
tiful domain, a curiosity too laudable to remain ungratified. 
In fact it is really a charming place, uniting in a remark- 
able degree the romantic character of Scottish scenery, 
with the rich verdure and huge forest trees that give 
majesty and richness to that of England, and I wish you 
knew Morritt and his wife, whom I like extremely, and have 
therefore the vanity to think you would like them very 
much also. If I were to be in town in spring, of which I 
have no hope or expectation at present, and which I should 
only desire for the pleasure of seeing a friend or two, of 
whom you stand among the foremost, I would make you 
acquainted, for one has a selfish pleasure in making one's 
friends acquainted, as you always hear of them more 
frequently. I have no leisure to add anything to this 

1 The "Chough and Crow" in Baillie, printed in LocJchart's Life, 
Orra. — Plays on the Passions, vol. vol. iii. pp. 349-355. 
iii. ; see Scott's Letters to Miss 



266 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 1812 

scrawl, except ray kindest remembrances to Miss A. 
Baillie, the Dr. and family. 

I beg the sheets may remain in your own fireside circle 
and never go out of your hand. I suffered more by an 
indiscreet communication than one would think such a 
trifle could occasion; and believe me, when I say with 
Captain Bobadil, " by the heart of valour in me, except it 
be to some peculiar and chosen spirit to whom I am ex- 
traordinarily engaged, as to yourself or so, I could not 
extend thus far." 1 Though time presses I must not omit 
to thank you for the various civilities with which you have 
honoured Mr. Terry, who is most deeply sensible of them. 
— Once more adieu ! Walter Scott. 

TO THE DUCHESS OF BUCCLEUCH. 

Castle St., Dec. 1812. 
I have the honour to request of your Grace's usual 
kindness, the acceptance of a copy of RoJceby. To any 
other person some apology would be necessary for heap- 
ing quarto upon quarto, but as your Grace was really the 
original cause of my writing any poetry, beyond the 
bounds of a Ballad (since the Lay of the Last Minstrel was 
only written to bring in Gilpin Horner), I must insist 
upon my privilege of overwhelming you with the wild tales 
to which your encouragement has given occasion. I trust 
your Grace will always believe me, your most respectful 
and obliged humble servant, Walter Scott. 

1 Every Man in his Humour, Act L sc. 4. 



CHAPTER IX 

1813 

EDINBURGH AND ABBOTSFORD 



' Yet once again the magic lyre shall ring, 

An exiled prince demands the lofty strain, 
And Scotland's falchion drawn to fence her king, 

And clans embattled on their native plain ; 
The Stuart's heir demands his father's reign, 

And Highland loyalty, with dauntless truth, 
Welcomes the wanderer from the lonely main, 

And to her bleeding bosom clasps the youth. 
The wandering sprite was heard on lake and hill, 

And thrice the bittern shriek'd, and echo clamour'd shrill. ' 
Edinburgh Annual Register, vol. iii. p. 



FAMILY ANNALS AND LITERARY WORK 



1813— age 42 



Financial embarrassments in publishers' 
and printers' firms. 

Visits Drumlanrig in July, and the north 
of England in August. 

The Laureateship offered by the Regent, 
and declined. 

Address from the City of Edinburgh to the 
Prince Regent in November. 

Bridal of Triermain published anony- 
mously by Ballantyne & Co., Edinburgh, 
in 12mo. 



Songs for the Pitt Anniversary. 

Swift's Works in progress, also Life of the 
Dean. 

Waverley recommenced in autumn. 

Lord of the Isles commenced. 

Memoirs of the Reign of King Charles the 
First, by Sir Philip Warwick, Kt., in 
8vo, published by Ballantyne. 



CHAPTER IX. 



TO LADY ABERCORN. 



Abbotsford, 8th January 1813. 

My dear Friend, — I have been a great vagabond 
during the autumn, and since then have been hard at work 
at my new poem, which (with official duty since November) 
has made me a very complete slave. The earliest sheets 
which can be got together are to be sent to Mr. Arbuthnot, 
through whose cover I think you will receive them more 
speedily and safely than by the stage or mail coach. I 
intended to have sent you my goose in giblets, or in other 
words, my poem by detached cantos, but I liked it so little 
in detail I was unwilling the Marquis should see it until it 
was finished, always in hopes I should be able to mend it 
as I got on. Accordingly, I think I have finished my 
bandit Bertram with some spirit, and that the last canto 
comes off better than I had anticipated. I saw Lord Aber- 
deen for literally a moment in the midst of the bustle of 
the Peers' election. 1 . . . I wished he would have stayed a day 
to look at the painting of Duddingston, 2 etc., but I could not 
prevail with him. He left Edinburgh that same evening. 

You ask me, dear Lady Abercorn, how I like Lord 
Byron's poem, and I answer, Very much. There is more 
original strength and force of thinking in it, as well as 
command of language and versification, than in almost 
any modern poem of the same length that I have happened 
to meet with. It is really a powerful poem, — the more 

1 The election at Holy rood of the for at the Union in 1707. 
sixteen Peers to represent Scotland 2 By Thomson, which the artist 

in the House of Lords, as provided intended for Lady Abercorn. 



270 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Jan. 

powerful because it arrests the attention without the aid of 
narrative, and without the least apparent wish to conciliate 
the favour of the reader, but rather an affectation of the 
contrary. I say an affectation of the contrary, because I 
should be sorry to think that a young man of Lord Byron's 
powers should really and unaffectedly entertain and 
encourage a contempt for all sublunary comforts and 
enjoyments. That we can be completely happy in this 
state of things, that is to say, that we can be so placed as 
neither to feel a void in our hearts or in our imaginations, 
is altogether inconsistent with our nature, and to mourn 
therefor is as wise as to regret that we have not wings, or 
that we lack the lamp of Aladdin, neither of which, by the 
way, would make us a bit happier if we had them. But 
any one who enjoys peace and competence, and what I hold 
equal to either, at least to the latter, the advantage of a 
well-informed mind, need only look round him to find 
out by comparison abundant reasons for being thankful 
for the rank in which Providence has placed him; and 
the wisest as well as happiest man is he who makes him- 
self as easy in it as he can. This tinge of discontent, 
or perhaps one may almost say misanthropy, is the only 
objection I have to Lord B.'s very powerful and original 
work. 

I had a temporary correspondence with Lord B. on 
rather an odd occasion. The Prince Regent, who now 
makes patte de velours to the gens des lettres, desired at 
some party to be introduced to Ld. B. (who by the way 
had written a very severe epigram on the fracas with Ld. 
Lauderdale), 1 and said many polite things to him, and what 
your Ladyship would hardly guess, a great many of your 
friend. Lord B., knowing the value of a prince's good word, 
put all these sugar-plums in possession of a person to be 
sent to me, and I could do no less than thank the donor, 

1 " Weep, daughter of a royal line," etc.— See Byron, 8vo, p. 552. 



1813] TO LADY ABEKCORN 271 

and so I had a civil letter from Childe Harold upon the 
subject. 1 By the way, there is a report Childe Harold is to 
be married to an heiress of our northern clime. . . . 

I communicated your Ladyship's message to the Duke 
of Buccleuch, but I have seen very little of him this year, 
for Bowhill, their seat in our neighbourhood, is to be 
repaired and enlarged, so they were not there this autumn, 
and I have been only twice at Dalkeith, being kept very 
hard at work. I expect to see him on Tuesday, when 
Roheby is to be christened, on which occasion the printer 
always gives a little party to a few of my friends, at which 
the Duke always attends. . . . 

I have just escaped to this place for a few days, to look 
at and direct my little creation. I think it will be prettier 
than I ventured to hope, but it will take some years. 
There is a superb spring which I have covered with a 
little Gothic screen composed of stones which were taken 
down when the modern church was removed from Melrose 
Abbey. As I got an ingenious fellow to put my little 
fragments of columns and carving together, you would 
really think it was four hundred years old. It is covered 
with earth all around, above and behind, and my morning's 
occupation has been planting weeping willows and weeping 
birches about and above it. 2 

Pray let me know whether there is any hope of your 
being soon in Scotland, since I certainly must contrive to 
meet you on the route, as I fear you, or rather the Marquis, 
will hardly be tempted to visit Duddingston. 3 I should 
like much to know how he is, and shall be proud if he 
finds anything to like in Roheby, though I am sure he 
will scold me for many blunders, and negligences, and 
very justly. — Your honoured and obliged and grateful, 

Walter Scott. 

1 See Life, vol. iii. pp. 393-402. 3 Lord Abercorn's mansion near 

2 See ante, page 261 and note. Edinburgh. 



272 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Jan. 

Bokeby was begun and finished as it now stands be- 
tween the 1st of October and 31st December. Think 
what a push, and excuse my silence. I destroyed some 
part that was written before. 



FROM JOANNA BAILLIE. 

Hampstead, January 14^, 1813. 

A thousand thanks to you, my dear friend ! You are 
very good, and therefore, as is meet and right, very dear 
to me. 

Your lumbering 4to, as you call it — the noble poem of 
Rokeby, as I call it — came to my hands two days ago, and I 
have already read it twice. . . . Take my best thanks again 
for your valuable present before I begin to speak of it, 
lest I should forget to thank you afterwards. It is a 
part of my treasure and worldly goods that will do me 
good all the days of my life. I wish you could have seen 
me when it arrived. My sister was from home, so I stirred 
my fire, swept the hearth, chased the cat out of the room, 
lighted my candles, and began upon it immediately. It 
is written with wonderful power both as to natural objects 
and human character; and your magnificent bandit, 
Bertram, is well entitled to your partiality; for it is a 
masterly picture, and true to nature in all its parts, accord- 
ing to my conceptions of nature. Your Lady and both 
her lovers are very pleasing and beautifully drawn; her 
conduct and behaviour to them both is so natural and 
delicate ; and so is theirs to each other. How many strik- 
ing passages there are which take a hold of the imagina- 
tion that can never be unloosed! The burning of the 
castle in all its progress is very sublime ; the final scene 
also, when Bertram rides into the church, is grand and 
terrific; the scene between him and Edmund, when he 
weeps to find that there is any human being that will shed 



1813] FKOM JOANNA BAILLIE 273 

a tear for him, is very touching and finely imagined. I 
say nothing of what struck me so much in the 3 first 
cantos. And besides those higher beauties, there are those 
of a softer kind that are wonderfully attractive ; for 
instance, the account of the poor Irishman's death, after 
he had delivered the child to the Lord of Kokeby, which 
made me weep freely, and the stealing of Edmund back to 
the cave by night with all the indications of his silent 
path ; the owlet ceasing its cry, the otter leaping into the 
stream, etc., is delightful. Your images and similes too, with 
which the work is not overloaded (like a lady with a few 
jewels, but of the best water), are excellent. Your songs 
are good, particularly those of Wilfrid; but they have 
struck me less, somehow or other, than the rest of the 
poem. As to the invention of your story, I praise that 
more sparingly, for tho' the leading circumstances are well 
imagined, the conducting of it seems to me too dramatic 
for a lyrical narrative, and there are too many complex 
contrivances to the bringing about the catastrophe. 

It seems to me you are hankering after and nearing 
to the drama prodigiously. Take possession of it then 
fairly and manfully. You have ample powers, and the 
favour of the public into the bargain ; and if I must be 
eclipsed in my own demesne, I will take it from your hand 
rather than from any other. 

Send me a better play than any I have to boast of, and 
if a shade of human infirmity should pass over my mind 
for a moment, by the setting of the sun I shall love you 
more than ever. . . . 

I must not be so ungrateful as to finish my paper 
without thanking you, in addition to all my other thanks, 
for the very handsome notice you take of me in the notes 
to RoJceby. You lose no occasion to stick a sprig in my 
cap when it offers, and there are no honours which I wear 
more proudly. J. B. 

vol. i. s 



274 SCOTT'S FAMILIAK LETTERS [March 

TO MORRITT. 

9th March 1813. 

My dear Morritt, — Your letter contains admirable 
news. I wish you would give the raw author of Triermain 1 
a hoist to notice, by speaking of him now and then in those 
parts where a word spoken is sure to have a hundred 
echoes. I mean your evening parties. ... I hear Jeffrey 
has really bestowed great praise on the poem, and means 
to give it a place in his review. It has not, he says, my 
great artery, but there is more attention to style, more 
elegance and ornament, etc. etc. etc. We will see however 
what he really will say to it in his review, for there is no 
sure augury from his private conversation. I enclose a 
copy. ... It has sold wonderfully here, but has not yet 
started in London, that we can learn. 

This delightful weather will I hope be of service to 
Mrs. Morritt's health. We had our snowstorm too, and it 
came in the most undeniable shape in the world. One 
day, though dreading weather as little as any one, it blew 
such a tempest of wind and snow that I could not go along 
Princes Street to get to the Register House, but was fairly 
blown home again and glad to get into harbour. It is the 
only day in my life that I ever remember having been 
fairly turned back by foul weather upon dry land. 

I was greatly delighted with the skirmish between the 
Dramatic Empress and her trusty ally, and the lyrical 
princess ; 2 I must take care to keep out of the way of the 
latter, whose wrath I have, it seems, incurred by ungal- 
lantly neglecting some verses which she sent me many 
years since, and which I am afraid I postponed acknow- 
ledging until acknowledgment would have no longer been 

1 Scott published the little vol- an amusing account of a misunder- 
ume of the Bridal of Triermain standing between Miss Holford, 
anonymously. author of Wallace, and Mrs. 

2 Mr. Morritt had given Scott Siddons. 



1813] TO MORRITT 275 

gracious. However, I am somewhat of Sir Lucius OTrigger's 
opinion, that the quarrel is a pretty quarrel as it stands, 
and hang them that first seek to accommodate it, say I. 1 
For aught I know, I am in equal disgrace with the other 
belligerent power, for the owls of your good city who are 
subscribing to invite her back to the stage, not content 
with various indirect applications, which I paid no atten- 
tion to, at length formally applied to me (the sapient Capel 
Lofft being their representative), through the medium of no 
less persons than Messrs. Longman & Co. So I was obliged 
to open my oracular jaws and give this worthy federation my 
reasons for not joining them to ask Mrs. Siddons to do an 
unwise thing. Now, although these were stated with great 
retenue, and with the highest praises on Mrs. Siddons' past 
and Mrs. Siddons' present, yet I am sensible that even 
doubts expressed as to Mrs. Siddons' future will not be 
very agreeable to a palate which has been accustomed to 
the sugared eloquence of Mrs. Fitzhugh and Lady Mil- 
banke. However, I must hold fast mine integrity, for I 
would not for the world do her the injury of even seeming 
to accede to' such a foolish proposal, especially as I rather 
think her printed answer had in it a sort of nolo episco- 
pari. 

The 8vo Rokeby is now published here and almost 
exhausted, though the Edition was a double one, i.e. 6000. 
They are going to press again. The 4to was overprinted 
by 500 or 1000, yet the Ballantynes have only about 30 of 
their share, which was three-fourths of the whole. I have 
had a most acceptable present from Lady Alvanley, two 
views, very well done indeed, by Miss Arden, one of Mor- 
tham Tower, and one of the Tees and Greta in the park at 
Rokeby. They are really extremely clever, very like the 
scenes they represent, and require none of the allowance 
usually indulged to amateurs. By the way, I have in safe 

1 See Sheridan's Rivals. 



276 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

keeping Mrs. Morritt's drawing of Mortham Tower, and 
have had it copied. I wish I knew a safe way of forward- 
ing the original. 

I hope they do not mean seriously to send the Duke of 
Cumberland to Hanover. Surely we have made enough 
of such experiments. Charlotte sends kind love to Mrs. 
Morritt, and I am ever, most truly yours, 

Walter Scott. 

to the duchess of buccleuch. 

Edinburgh, 22d March 1813. 
Madam, — I never apologise for intruding upon your 
Grace when I can recommend to you an act of kindness or 
of charity, for I am always sure that the cause would ad- 
vocate itself even if introduced by a stranger, and I think 
your Grace would scold me if I did not think that in such 
a case as the enclosed, 1 1 have as the only minstrel of the 
Clan, a sort of privilege to be a beggar. I believe there 
is now no remnant of the Household Poet except the 
Laureate and the Highland pipers. Of the rights of the 
former I know nothing, but if I may regulate myself on 
those of the Piper, who is always the most important as 
well as the most noisy attendant of the Chieftain, I will be 
quite warranted in begging a guinea from your Grace and 
another from the Duke to save a brother minstrel from 
very short commons. I do not warrant that the poetry 
will be good, as the poor man has not been lately in a way 
to improve his talents, which were originally far from de- 
spicable. But what your Grace may miss in amusement 
you will, I am sure, account more than compensated in 
bounty to a poor man who I fear needs it much. If Lord 
Montagu has not forgot me he will give me a guinea also. 
I hope the Duke and Lord Winchester, 2 the gallant Lord 

1 Referring to the Queen's Wake, 2 Afterwards Walter Francis, 

by the Ettrick Shepherd. fifth Duke of Buccleuch. 



1813] TO THE DUCHESS OF BUCCLEUCH 277 

John and all the young Ladies are well, especially my little 
god-daughter ; I have got a little keepsake for her, but I 
will claim a dinner at Dalkeith or Bowhill on her birth- 
day before I produce it. It is a very ancient and simple 
brooch, which I think may have one day fixed the mantle 
of a British princess. — Your Grace will always believe me 
your most respectful and very faithful humble servant, 

Walter Scott. 



TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Abbotsford, 23d March 1813. 

You have a great right, my dear friend, to upbraid my 
ungracious silence, and yet heaven knows the five fingers 
of my right hand have had so much to do for six months 
past that I believe they have sometimes wished for the 
cramp as a relief from the pen. If you will recollect, my 
dear Lady Abercorn, that Rokeby was written as fast 
as my hand could write it, that moreover I have Swift to 
bring out before the Birthday, that our official duty, though 
formal, and easily discharged, is still duty which occupies 
two or three hours each day during the terms of the 
court, that I had the burden of constant attention to the 
police of the little county of which I am Sheriff, where 
certain agitators of Luddism had begun to be busy, above 
all that I had Abbotsford to convert from a bare bank and 
meadow into a human place of habitation, I think you 
will pardon my eyes for turning very heavy when the 
various labours of the day were over, and when I was most 
disposed to send remembrances to a friend whom I have 
so many reasons to esteem and to love. I have been here 
for some days directing the important operations of the 
spring, and particularly the stocking of a garden, which I 
trust will be a tolerable one for ordinary wall fruit if the 
easterly hazes which infest the Tweed in the season of 



278 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

flourish will permit. Forest trees flourish with me at a 
great rate, and of my whole possession of 120 acres I have 
reduced about 70 to woodland, both upon principles of 
taste and economy. I have been studying Price 1 with all 
my eyes, and not without hopes of converting an old 
gravel-pit into a bower, and an exhausted quarry into a 
bathing-house. So you see, my dear Madam, how deeply 
I am bit with the madness of the picturesque, and if your 
Ladyship hears that I have caught a rheumatic fever in 
the gravel-pit, or have been drowned in the quarry, I trust 
you will give me credit for dying a martyr to taste. I trust 
to find the Kembles still in Edinburgh. J. K. is, I think, 
greater than himself, and that is twenty times greater than 
any actor I ever saw. I attended him most faithfully 
until we left Edinburgh, and to my very great amusement 
indeed. He is a very magnificent study for any one who 
is fond of dramatic representation. I will take care of your 
Ladyship's commission, and will add to any new books the 
Kembles may be able to find, two or three little volumes. 
The first and most interesting is a spirited imitation of my 
manner called the Bridal of Triermain. The author is 
unknown, but it makes some noise among us. The other 
is a little novel, rather too much of the marvellous cast 
for my taste, but written with some spirit and interest. 
Perhaps I may find something else before my packet goes 
off, especially an 8vo Rokeby, which must be ready by the 
time I get to town. I am quite proud of the Marquis's 
approbation : you know how very highly I hold his Lord- 
ship's taste. 

I was very well diverted indeed with the Rejected 
Addresses, but I really did not think it necessary to ex- 
press my satisfaction to the Messrs. Smith, the authors. 
I would certainly have done so had I had a handsome 
opportunity, but the gentlemen are perfect strangers to 

1 Sir Uvedale Price's Treatise on the Picturesque. 



1813] TO LADY ABERCOEN 279 

me, and to intrude a compliment upon them might have 
looked like deprecating their satire, a point on which my 
feelings are perfectly invulnerable. 

The poor Princess of Wales — surely her fate has been 
a hard one, and no less so to have fallen into the hands 
of her present advisers, whose only object in making these 
scandalous anecdotes public is to disgrace the royal family 
in the eyes of the public. After all, the whole affair reminds 
me irresistibly of a hand at Commerce. The present 
ministers, while out of office, held the Princess in their hand, 
— a court card to be sure, but of no great value. They 
have the luck to take up the Prince, cast by the blunder of 
their opponents, and they discard the Princess as a matter 
of course, while the Outs, equally as a matter of course, 
take her up, and place her in their hand as being a kind 
of pis alter. And thus goes the strange game at politics. 1 

I have had it intimated to me through the Prince's 
Librarian that his Koyal Highness desires his library to be 
open to me when I come to town, and wishes me to be pre- 
sented, with many other words of great praise and civility. 
I should soon lose my sunshine, I fancy, were I to go to 
Kensington, which I certainly would do if I were asked, 
having no idea that the Princess's adversity cancels my 
obligations to her for so much attention as I have received. 
And so four hundred miles' distance has its advantages. 

Miller 2 has given up business and my present publishers 
are my old friends and school-fellows the Ballantynes of 
Edinburgh. To publish for myself might be more lucra- 
tive, but from the connections I have with them I really 
get as much by Rokeby as I ought in reason to expect, 
and more than was ever given for any poem of the length, 
— 3000 guineas. Yet the first edition has paid them, and 

1 The new administration after of the ill-used wife of George iv. 
Perceval's death, under Lord Liver- 2 Wm. Miller, publisher, Albe- 

pool, was supported by the Regent; marie Street, who had just sold 

the opposition then took up the cause his business to Mr. John Murray. 



r 



280 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [April 

the second will be clear profit to the publishers. I will 
write a few lines by the Kembles, whom I hope to see before 
their departure. 

TO MISS SMITH. 

Edinr., 5th April 1813. 

My dear Miss Smith, — ... I have been much teazed 
lately with applications to join the subscription for the 
recall of Mrs. Siddons, and have at length, with great 
reluctance, for undoubtedly it was a delicate subject, been 
obliged to give my reasons for declining. In fact she will do 
a great injustice to herself if she suffers herself to be lured 
back to a situation of such labour, when her constitution 
has obviously suffered so much. I wonder if these ladies 
and gentlemen have subscribed to make her immortal and 
unattackable by age or by decay, for I think that is the 
only thing that can render their proposal reasonable. The 
parting was made just at the time it should have been, 
retaining enough of her astonishing powers to command 
our admiration, while the unavoidable decay of strength 
and constitution reconciled the public to losing her. I 
hope she will not be cajoled into returning, for she can 
never repeat the same impressive parting, or receive from 
the public such testimonies of regret and esteem. These 
things happen but once, and more last words are always 
dangerous. 1 

We have had John Kemble here for some weeks, who 
is now doubtless by far our first artist among the actors. 

1 Mrs. Siddons retired from the great emotion her parting words, 

London stage on June 30th, 1812, ending with — 

at Covent Garden, where she acted 

T , ,, , ,, .,, , "And breathes with swelling heart her 

Lady Macbeth with so much power her ^ farewell „ 

that at the conclusion of the sleep 

scene the audience could not bear The audience took leave of their 

to look on any of the other actors, favourite with great acclamations, 

though John Kemble was there ; and at once left the house, without 

he led his sister to the front of the waiting for the conclusion of the 

stage, where she delivered with play. 



1813] TO MISS SMITH 281 

He has been fashionable, and has drawn great houses, 
much to the advantage of the Harry Siddons, whose house 
was not much frequented in the beginning of the season. 
Mr. Pinkerton the historian has had a tragedy here, but it 
was not successful. The interest was of a disagreeable kind, 
and the scenes not connected so artfully as to produce 
dramatic effect; otherwise, the poetry has, I think, con- 
siderable merit. 1 We have not yet seen Coleridge's play, 2 
but are to have it on Saturday for Terry's benefit. I doubt 
it will make no great impression ; for, excepting Terry and 
Mrs. H. Siddons, we are heinously unprovided for any 
tragic effort. . . . Adieu, my dear Miss Smith, and believe 
me, ever your sincere friend, Walter Scott. 

FROM LADY LOUISA STUART. 

Bothwell Castle, 22nd April 1813. 

Dear Mr. Scott, — I shall make you no apology for my 
long silence, or for owning that I did not attempt to read 
Rokeby till about a fortnight ago, my mind having been 
thoroughly untuned to pleasure, and needle-work my chief 
resource and occupation. No more of what does not con- 
cern you. Let me now say how glad I am to see a third 
edition already printed, a proof its popularity equals that 
of its predecessors. When I come to my full relish for 
poetry, I believe it will be as great a favourite with me ; 
the characters, always your forte, are full as masterly, and 
Wilfrid's in a manner new, because the milder virtues in a 
man never were made quite interesting before. 

Rowe's Altamont 3 is insipid ; your friend Miss Baillie 
gives us the female character, not the male, in her gentler 
heroes ; even in novels they commonly only serve as foils 
to more impetuous spirits. But Wilfrid is almost the first 

1 There were two anonymous o/Strathern on March 24. — Dibdin's 

historical plays put on the Edin- Annals. 

burgh stage at this time — Caledonia 2 Remorse, acted in Edinburgh 

on Dec. 23, 1812, and The Heiress in April 1813. 3 Fair Penitent. 



282 SCOTT'S FAMILIAK LETTERS [April 

object of the reader, attracts one's pity and affection, and 
never one's contempt. Bertram as an individual is also 
very original ; tho' of the same species as Roderick Dhu 
and William of Deloraine, perfectly distinct from them, 
himself alone in every word and action. I was forcibly 
struck with the parting scene between him and Edmund 
in the cave, his depression rendered so pathetic, and the 
sublime simile of the tropic sun. His finale on entering 
the church highly satisfies me. The songs are almost all 
charming; that to the moon, the bandit's ballad and 
chorus, and the cypress wreath especially. 

I could say much more, but must speak of the Bridal 
of Triermain, and as a faithful spy, will give you a strict 
account of all I have heard, good and bad. Lady Douglas 
read it aloud to Lady H. Ancrum, the young ladies, and 
me ; the Scotts were gone. It produced exclamations of 
surprise and delight, and was all approved, excepting one 
part, the ridicule on Lucy's lovers etc., from page 103 to 
109 inclusive. 

You are the only author I ever yet knew to whom one 
might speak plain about the faults found with his works ; 
if this were yours, I could fairly own the disapprobation 
of that part was very decided. I ventured to say the poem 
seemed meant as an imitation of your style, and you some- 
times had careless lines. "No," replied Lady D. in- 
dignantly, " but Walter Scott never wrote anything in such 
bad taste as this; it is quite unlike him, and I cannot 
understand how it could come from a person capable of 
writing the remainder, which really is beautiful." 

On Lord Newbattle's arriving from Edinburgh the other 
day very full of it, and saying a Mr. Gillies was its author, 
she begged him, if he knew Mr. Gillies, to persuade him to 
strike out that passage. The Glasgow bookseller also gives 
it to Mr. Gillies, 1 so we are quite satisfied. . . . 

1 Mr. Robert P. Gillies. — See Journal, passim. 



1813] FEOM LADY LOUISA STUAET 283 

I think you will enjoy an odd incident that occurred 
yesterday. In the change for a draft Lady D. found a 
Paisley guinea note, pretty dirty and greasy, on the back of 
which was a blotting that by chance she observed to look 
like verse. With much pains I deciphered these lines — 

" Farewell my note ! and wheresoe'er ye wend 
Shun gaudy scenes to be the poor man's friend. 
Ye 've left a poor one, go to one as poor, 
And drive despair and hunger from his door." 

She vows to keep it sacredly for some object of charity. I 
am charged with her kindest remembrance, and beg you 
will give mine to Mrs. Scott. — Believe me, ever your much 
obliged, L. Stuart. 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

22nd April 1813. 

Many thanks, my dearest friend, for your kind atten- 
tion about the verses. They are very clever indeed, and 
had it not been that my friend Lydia White lies rather 
open to be practised upon, I should never have suspected 
them, though in the circumstances I deemed further 
inquiry due for the sake of the public. 1 It was very hand- 
some of the author to put me on my guard, and I beg you 
will express how kindly I take it of him. I understood 
from Miss White's second letter that I could get no 
feasible account of the authenticity of the verses, and our 
friend Lady Melville when in Ireland had heard of the 
quiz and wrote to me about it. I put the lines into the 
Register, by way of contributing to a work which 1 think 
very well of. . . . 

The Bridal of Triermain is the book which has ex- 
cited most interest here. Jeffrey lauds it highly, I am 
informed, and is one day to throw it at my head. I have 

1 Modern verses which had been sent to Scott as an original poem by 
Swift. 



284 



SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS 



[April 



added a little book called Poetical Epistles, 1 or some such. 

name, only for the sake of the first two pieces, or rather 

of two or three paragraphs of them, or rather for two lines 

applying exactly to a view from Abbotsford — 

" Soft slept the mist on cloven Eildon laid, 
And distant Melrose peep'd from leafy shade." 

The attempt to render Theocritus into broad vulgar Scotch 
is totally unsuccessful. I also add Horace in London, by 
the authors of the Rejected Addresses, but which does not 
add to their fame. In the first place, many of the topics 
they have touched are gone by, for who now thinks of Mrs. 
Clarke or Duke and Darling ? But besides, the public will 

objections that not a line of the 
poem escaped unblotted, excepting 
two, which were neither good nor 
bad, but essentially necessary to 
carry on the story. As my good 
friends, however, did not in general 
agree upon their objections, I took 
the liberty of departing from them 
all ; and from that time I have 
never sought or given any criticism 
except from two persons, whose 
minds are very much in the same 
cast of feeling with my own. 

I trust, sir, that you will hold 
this as an apology for my declining 
to offer any particular remarks on 
a poem to which I can so safely 
and conscientiously give my sincere 
approbation. 

There is one couplet in your 
Epistle which I suppose I have 
quoted a hundred times, as it de- 
scribes exactly the distant view of 
Eildon and Melrose from the upper 
part of my little farm. I meant to 
have said all this a long while since, 
but have been prevented by a 
variety of trifling business. 

I wish you, sir, all health to 
follow your literary amusements, 
and should be happy at any time 
to shew myself your obliged ser- 
vant, Walter Scott. 



1 The Poetical Epistles were 
written by the Rev. Robert 
Morehead, afterwards Dean of 
Edinburgh and subsequently Rector 
of Easington, Yorkshire. I am 
indebted to the courtesy of the 
author's granddaughter for per- 
mitting me to use the following 
letter addressed "To the [anony- 
mous] author of Epistles from 
Scotland and Translations, etc., 
care of Messrs. Ramsay and Co., 
Printers, Edinburgh." 

Ediitr., 1st Jvme 1813. 

I should not, sir, have suffered 
your card to remain [so] long un- 
answered if I had thought that I 
could offer you any criticisms upon 
your interesting poems. But I am 
not a great friend either to giving 
or receiving advice of this nature. 
A friendly critic may no doubt 
sometimes be of service to an author, 
but I think very rarely. 

It once happened to me, when 
less hackneyed in composition, to 
shew a small poem to about a dozen 
persons, whom I consulted as having 
taste and judgment. They all 
honoured my attempt with general 
approbation, but favoured me at 
the same time with so many special 



1813] TO LADY ABERCORN 285 

not bear too much jocularity from one quarter; fun upon 
fun is apt to grow a little tiresome. Accordingly, Horace 
in London has been coldly received, and the authors who 
were, as lions of the first order, received into the fashion- 
able menageries last season, are no longer in the same 
request. So at least says the echo we hear of London 
tattle. I desired the Ballantynes to add three thick 
volumes of Eastern Tales, the most complete collection 
of the kind ever published, which I delight in most ex- 
tremely. I fear you will find the print, though beautiful 
for the size, too small for your eyes; but they are an 
excellent stock-book for the saloon. A volume of popular 
romances belong to the set, on a plan which will be con- 
tinued if the public like them. To all these I have added 
what are worth all the rest, Crabbe's new Tales, strongly 
marked with his manner, diction, and style of thinking ; 
but very interesting from the deep insight which they 
afford into human character. It is scarcely possible to 
look at his portraits without recognising them as painted 
from nature, though one may never have met with the 
originals whom they resemble. Any of these books which 
your ladyship may not like on perusal may be returned, if 
you think proper, and any order to my friendly publishers 
I always consider as an obligation on myself. 

• I have an old copy of the history of the Highwaymen. 
It is ill- written and ill-selected, yet curious. What a book 
might be made out of the causes celebres of England, col- 
lected upon a principle similar to that adopted by the 
French editors of that popular work. The criminal records 
of Scotland would be still more extraordinary ; for, joined 
to the peculiarity of manners, the custom or rule of taking 
down the whole evidence in writing, which prevailed till with- 
in these thirty years, afforded complete materials for such 
a selection, which, by the way, I have often thought of. 
I am now far advanced with Swift. When my task is 



286 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [April 

over I intend to arrange for publication a very complete 
collection of songs and poetry respecting the insurrections 
— for I will not call them rebellions — of 1715 and 1745, 
for the purpose of making a supplement to the Border 
Minstrelsy, and bringing down the ballad history of 
Scotland to the middle of the eighteenth century. 

You may depend on our meeting at Dumfries in 
August, and I will go on a day's journey with you if I do 
not increase the difficulty of your accommodation, which 
with so large a suite must necessarily be considered. — 
Adieu, my dearest friend, God bless you, W. S. 

There is at Dublin a man of great but eccentric genius 
named Maturin. 1 His father held an office of emolument 
in the post-office, but from circumstances of inaccuracy, 
which however was not held to affect character, lost his 
situation, and was thrown from opulence to indigence. 
The son, in whom I am interested merely from his high 
talent, was a clergyman in the diocese of the Bishop of 
Meath, who tells me that he behaved remarkably well, but 
held tenets too Calvinistic for the church, and which were 
likely to prevent his progress. He is now settled in 
Dublin, and keeps, I understand, a boarding-house for 
young gentlemen studying at Trinity College. He is an 
excellent classical scholar, and a man of general informa- 
tion on all subjects, with the power of expressing himself 
powerfully either in verse or prose. Two of his novels fell 
into my hands, and struck me much as evincing a strong, 
though very wild and sombre imagination, and great 
powers of expression. His powers of language indeed 
sometimes outrun his ideas, like the man who was run 
away with by his own legs. I think this man really deserv- 

1 Charles Robert Maturin, one of successfully introduced at Drury 

the many unfortunate men of Lane in 1816 by Kean. The 

genius whom Scott endeavoured to original ms. with Maturin's letters 

serve by advice and pecuniary to Scott, is still preserved at 

assistance. His drama Bertram was Abbotsford. 



1813] TO LADY ABERCORN 287 

ing of patronage from his talents, and capable of serving 
the Duke of Richmond's administration by his pen, should 
it be thought worth while to inquire after him. At 
present he seems to be in the way of adding another ex- 
ample to the long roll of unfortunate men of talents Ireland 
has produced. If your ladyship can turn the eye of any 
great person upon him who may be willing to patronise, I 
cannot, from the account I hear of Mr. Maturin from the 
Bishop of Meath, suppose it will be ill bestowed. 

TO HIS DAUGHTER. 
Abbotsford, 3d May (very like 3d March in Temperature) [1813]. 

My dear Sophia, — I received your letter in which you 
say nothing of Walter's schooling. I hope that goes on 
well. I am sorry to say the poor Cuddy is no more. He 
lost the use of his hind legs, so we were obliged to have 
him shot, out of humanity. This will vex little Anne, but 
as the animal could never have been of the least use to 
her, she has the less reason to regret his untimely death ; 
and I will study to give her something that she will like 
as well, to make amends, namely, a most beautiful peacock 
and pea-hen, so tame that they come to the porch and 
feed out of the children's hands. They were a present from 
Mertoun, and I will give them to little Anne to make 
amends for this family loss of the Donkey. I have got a 
valuable addition to the Museum, some of the hair of 
Charles I. cut from the head when his coffin was discovered 
about a month ago in St. George's Chapel at Windsor. 
Dr. Baillie begged it for me of Sir Henry Halford, under 
whose inspection the coffin was opened. The hair is a 
light brown. This is my best news. The worst is that 
everything is suffering from cold and drought. Give my 
kind love to Walter, Anne, and little Charles. I assure 
you the gardens are well looked after, but we want a little 
rain sadly. The Russians have taken Dantzick and you 



288 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTEES [May 

have escaped reading some very cramp gazettes, conse- 
quently a good deal of yawning. Mama joins in kind 
compliments to Miss Miller, and I am always, your affec- 
tionate papa, Walter Scott. 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

[1813.] 

You may conceive, my dear friend, the surprise and 
pleasure with which I received the precious relique your 
letter enclosed. I say you may imagine it, because your 
fancy can comprehend everything, but I will not allow 
that any one else can comprehend the matter in the 
slightest degree. I have had a thousand different fancies 
about the proper mode of enchasing and preserving it 
without being able to satisfy myself, but more of this 
when I can acquaint you with the result. 1 My pleasure 
was the greater at being possessed of this inestimable re- 
lique of distressed majesty, because I had been interesting 
myself deeply about the discovery of Charles's grave with- 
out the least hope of being so far a partaker in its spoils. 
Perhaps it will interest Sir Henry Halford to know that 
the reports to which Clarendon alludes, as unfavourable to 
the statesmen of the time, were founded on the following 
circumstances. Oliver Cromwell was buried with great 
splendour, and it was the hope and expectation of the 
Royalists that rites equally sumptuous or more should 
have been rendered to the body of Charles i. 2 Accord- 
ingly it has been affirmed that a sum was actually appro- 
priated for that purpose, and that as Charles n. employ 'd 
it upon his pleasures, he was fain to shelter himself under 
the economical subterfuge that his father's grave could 
not be discovered, a matter highly improbable, let Lord 
Clarendon say what he will, and indeed as appears from 

1 For description of the Gold Ring ingit, see Life, vol. iv. p. 141. 
enclosing King Charles's hair with 2 Rebellion, vol. vi. pp. 243-45, 

the word "Remember" surround- Lond. 1826. 



1813] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 289 

his own narrative and that of Herbert, as well as from the 
late remarkable discovery, by no means accurately con- 
sistent with truth. 

I did not think Charles's hair had been quite so light ; 
that of his father, and I believe of all the Stuarts till 
Charles il, was reddish. My friend James Skene of Rubis- 
law inherited from his mother, a descendant of Bishop 
Juxon, the Bible which Charles gave on the scaffold to 
the prelate, with the emphatic and enigmatical word 
Remember, to which no good clue has ever been found. 

I wish Dr. Baillie had been at Windsor. I should 
have liked to have known how the Regent looked upon 
this solemn occasion, for the incident was a trying one. 
Tory as I am, my heart only goes with King Charles in 
his struggles and distresses, for the fore part of his reign 
was a series of misconduct ; however, if he sow'd the wind, 
God knows he reap'd the whirlwind, and so did those who 
first drew the sword against him, few of whom had occa- 
sion to congratulate the country or themselves upon the 
issue of these disastrous wars. Sound, therefore, be the 
sleep, and henceforward undisturbed the ashes, of this 
unhappy prince. In his private capacity he was a man of 
unimpeach'd virtue, worth, and honour, and bore his mis- 
fortune with the spirit of a prince and the patience of a 
Christian. His attachment to a particular form of worship 
was in him conscience, for he adhered to the Church of 
England during his treaty in the Isle of Wight and after- 
wards, when by giving up that favourite point he might 
have secured his re-establishment; and in that sense he 
may be justly consider'd as a martyr, though his early 
political errors blemish his character as King of England. 
My great-great-grandfather by the mother's side, John 
Swinton of Swinton, narrowly escaped being among the 
commissioners who tried him, being an especial friend 
and councillor of old Noll (the more shame for him). He 

VOL. I. t 



290 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [May 

was one of the principal managers for Scotland during the 
interregnum ; and upon the Restoration, finding himself in 
great danger of sharing the fate of Argyle, he chose to 
assume the faith and manners of a Quaker, on which 
occasion it was observed if he had not trembled he would 
not have quaked. A grand-aunt of mine used to tell me 
her father's astonishment, who went to bed a fashionable 
young gentleman, laying aside one of the rich laced suits 
of the time, and upon awaking found a compleat suit of 
Simon Pure habiliments laid down in the stead of his fine 
clothes; but it saved his father's neck and estate, the 
court satisfying themselves with some gruesome fines, 
which the family feel the effects of to this day. Some 
other relations got clapper-claw'd on the other side, losing 
both land and life for the Stuarts, so that I heard enough 
of the Civil Wars on both sides of the question. I must 
not conclude these desultory anecdotes without my kindest 
remembrances and thanks to Dr. Baillie, through whose 
intercession I have been so much honoured. I think, with 
the sword of Montrose, and this lock of the unfortunate 
Charles, I am fairly set up as a Cavalier, and it would be 
scarce possible for me to be anything else were I disposed. 
I really grieve for this juncture of affairs, but it will 
blow by if the Regent has prudence. The minister would 
deserve well of his country who would advise him to ex- 
tend to his wife the protection of a husband, and then with 
a good grace exert the authority of one. I think, and 
have some reason for thinking, that had Perceval lived 
he would have attempted to place them on a less scandal- 
ous footing. . . . 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Edinr., 2\st May [1813]. 

My dearest friend, — Your letter (always most 
welcome) was doubly so as it promises the pleasure of 



1813] TO LADY ABERCOKN 291 

seeing you so soon. Any day after the 12th July you may 
rely on my meeting you at Longtown, and proceeding a 
day or two with you in any direction. I presume you go 
over Stainmore, in which [case] Mrs. Scott and I will pro- 
bably go as far as Greta-bridge, to visit my friends the 
Morritts at Kokeby. My cortege will in that case be 
rather patriarchal, as I shall probably have my boy and 
girl with me ; but this will be no great inconvenience, as 
they can get beds in the town at Longtown, and at Penrith 
(which I fancy will be your next day's journey) there is 
a very large inn. You travel, I presume, with your own 
cavalry as usual. Should you keep the west road by 
Kendal, I will go so far as that town, and so to Keswick 
and see Sou they. Till the 12th July I am necessarily 
detained by attendance on the court here; for although 
we can play truant sometimes, the ill-health of the wife of 
one of my colleagues has carried him to Harrowgate this 
season, and there cannot above one of us be absent at a 
time without the risk of stopping the business of the 
court. 

I like Lord Abercorn's plan of all things in the world. 
It is a sort of muddling work which would amuse me very 
much, and I am convinced I could divest the cases so much 
of technicality that it would form a most entertaining book. 
Of course, it would only comprehend Scottish causes, for 
knowing nothing of English law, I would make a foolish 
figure on that ground. There is one great objection, how- 
ever, to this undertaking, and that is, that the collection 
would hardly be complete without the Douglas cause. 
But this revival would be accompanied with unpleasant 
feelings to the present family, with whom I have always lived 
on particular intimacy. Indeed, I do not anywhere know 
so clever and pleasant a companion as Lady D., 1 and 
you know besides she is an aunt of the Duke of Buccleuch, 

1 Frances, Lady Douglas. 



292 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [May 

and her daughter is married on an uncle of my neighbour 
and kinsman, Scott of Gala; so I would do nothing to 
displease, or rather to hurt their feelings for the universe. 
If the Marquis thinks this chapter can be skipt over, 
I will be most anxious to set my researches on foot. The 
half barbarous state of Scotland until 1748 gave rise to 
deeds and incidents of the most wild, mysterious, and 
original character, and even in my own time I have known 
professionally some cases of a most singular description. 
I am half tempted to abridge the circumstances of one 
which occurred during the last sitting of our courts, and 
is still in dependence. 

About the middle of the last century a Scotch gentle- 
man of landed property, by name Carruthers of Dormont, 
married an aunt of the late Duchess of Gordon. The ladies 
of this family were not famed for circumspection, and this 
dame went astray. The husband obtained a sentence of 
divorce against her ; but before the proceedings could be 
finished she was delivered of a daughter, which law fixed 
upon Dormont as a legitimate child, heir to his estate by 
former settlements, although he had every possible reason 
to believe that the infant was an alien to his blood. He 
refused to see the child, and as he was obliged to maintain 
it, he resolved it should be in such a manner that the girl 
when she grew up, should never either know her rights, or 
have an opportunity of vindicating them. She was shifted 
from one obscure place of concealment to another (removals 
which afterwards could only be traced by the affection 
of her nurse, who had traced the poor infant through all 
the places of abode out of pure affection), and at length, 
when about five years old, she was sent to reside with an 
ignorant and low farmer amid the wildest part of the 
Cheviot Hills, with positive instructions that the girl 
should receive no other education than should enable 
her to read the Bible, and that she should be bred in the 



1813] TO LADY ABEECOEN 293 

most humble manner. Still however, dressed and edu- 
cated as a peasant wench, the girl showed some spirit 
and sense above her fortune. She spurned (one of the 
witnesses says) at the name of Kobson which they endea- 
voured to fix upon her, and as her guardian was talkative 
in his cups (a predicament in which, like most Cheviot 
farmers, he was frequently placed), she learned by degrees 
more of the mystery of her birth than Dormont designed 
she should ever know. Being a pretty girl she did not 
want admirers; nay, as she disdained all of utterly low 
degree, the son of a neighbouring petty squire called 
Routledge ran away with and married her. His father's 
estate was very small, and burthened with debt. The 
young couple were not economists, and distresses came 
thick upon them. They had recourse to her legal father, 
as he may be called, and stated their claims to a share of 
his estate while alive, and to inherit it at his death, but 
being miserably embarrassed were at length glad to sell 
their rights for about £1200, which was received and 
spent. Calamity came still more heavy. At length the 
husband died a prisoner in Carlisle jail, the wife, who had 
been the victim of ill fortune from her birth, soon followed 
him to the grave, and a boy and girl who survived be- 
came the objects of the charity of a distant relation. The 
boy (who was so young when his mother died as to have no 
knowledge whatever of the peculiar circumstances under 
which he was born) was fitted out for the East Indies. 
Before he went on board, his benefactor put into his 
hands a packet, and desired him to take charge of it. It 
referred, he said, to some claims of his mother on a Scotch 
estate, and might one day be useful to him should he 
return from India an independent man. The youth left 
the papers with some others in the hands of a friend in 
London, and went to follow his fortune. It seemed that 
the ill planet which haunted his mother had exhausted its 



294 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [May 

influence, for Henry Routledge was prosperous, and ob- 
tained an honourable situation in the Company's service ; 
and in process of time obtained leave to return to Britain. 
He visited Cumberland, his native county, and was in- 
duced, from the love of grouse-shooting, to extend his tour 
to Dumfriesshire. An extraordinary chance led him to 
chuse his residence at a petty inn, near the very estate of 
Dormont, now possessed by a grand-nephew of the old 
laird. The name of the stranger (after he had been a 
guest for a day or two) struck the landlady, who, like 
most of her class, was a sort of record of the ancient and 
modern gossip of the parish, where it may be thought so 
odd a history as that of Routledge's mother was well 
known, for her claim had been made public at the time 
when old Dormont compounded with her and her husband. 
This chattering old dame did not fail to engage Mr. Rout- 
ledge in discourse about his family history, of which she 
found with great surprise he was totally ignorant. The 
lights she gave him on his mother's melancholy history 
recalled to his recollection the packet given him by his 
benefactor, who was now dead. When he returned to 
London he caused the papers it contained to be laid 
before English Counsel, who of course could only advise 
him to consult lawyers here. He left directions to do so, 
and to commence law proceedings if necessary. The late 
President Blair (then Solicitor-General for Scotland) 
advised a lawsuit, on the ground that Mrs. Routledge 
and her husband, in compounding their own right, 
could not transact away that of their son. When Mr. 
Routledge returned a second time from India, he 
was greeted with the joyful intelligence that the first 
decision of the cause was favourable. He gave a dinner 
to some of his friends, and to his counsel, and — I am 
sorry to add the catastrophe — was found dead in his bed 
next morning, having broken a blood-vessel during the 



1813] TO LADY ABERCORN 295 

night. So ended this strange eventful history, but so ended 
not the lawsuit, which is still maintained against the 
Carruthers in possession, in the right of the deceased 
Routledge's sister, Mrs. Majendie, wife of the Bishop of 
Bristol (as I think). 1 

My cause celebre has occupied so much room that I 
have none to enlarge upon the present marriage-law of 
England and Scotland. Being quite opposite to each 
other, the one acknowledging as legal a marriage which 
the other annuls, it clearly follows that a man may have 
a lawful wife in each country at one and the same time, 
and also a lawful family by each wife, and this with per- 
fect impunity, because, as neither country will acknowledge 
the marriage made in the other as existing, a trial for 
bigamy is out of the question. It is a comfortable circum- 
stance in such an arrangement, that the two wives, if they 
wish to retain their credit, must live in different countries, 
for she who crosses the Tweed loses her character. — It 
would require much more room than I have left to say 
how much I am your Ladyship's most obliged and faithful 
humble servant, W. S. 

TO MORRITT. 

Edinr., 25th June 1813. 

My dear Morritt, — I fear our match has missed fire, 
and Triermain will not be reviewed ; but what the reason 

1 The decision favourable to Mr. of 1759, by which Mr. and Mrs. 

Routledge was given in February Routledge accepted £650 (not 

1811, but the ultimate decision of £1200) from Mr. Carruthers in full 

the case was unfavourable. Upon satisfaction of their claims, was 

Mr. Routledge's death, his sister, binding upon their heirs. This 

Mrs. Majendie, wife of the Bishop judgment was affirmed by the 

of Bangor (not Bristol) took his House of Lords in 1820, after a 

place as pursuer of the action ; and reference to the Court of Session 

in May 1812 the First Division of for the opinion of the whole judges, 

the Court of Session by a majority See Reports in Faculty Collection : 

of 4 to 3 held that the compromise also 4 Dow 392, and 2 Bligh 692. 



296 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTEES [June 

may be for this alteration I cannot learn without making 
inquiries, which would not be prudent. It is said that 
Jeffrey, the scourge of authors, is about to pay a visit to 
America almost immediately. The reason of this move is 
variously assigned ; but the public, always willing to put 
the worst construction upon such matters, spread a whisper 
about a claim made upon his unwilling hand by some fair 
nymph whose pretensions he is willing to parry. This 
however I don't believe a word of, and cannot see what 
good changing his climate would do him in the case sup- 
posed. He has some connections in America, and I 
fancy is willing to take the opportunity of the long 
vacation to refresh himself in the congenial atmosphere 
of a republic. 

By the way, I got a present from an American gentleman 
of a most admirable brace of volumes, entitled The History 
of New York during the Dutch Dynasty, by Diedrich 
Knickerbocker. It is an excellent and very humorous 
satire, much of it doubtless lost by its being local, but 
enough remaining [to] entertain me highly. 1 I will bring 
it to you if you are to be at Rokeby in the beginning 
of August; for you must know that for the purpose of 
settling some business, I am to meet the Marquis of 
Abercorn on the border in the commencement of that 
month, and I must travel on a day's journey, or perhaps 
two, in his suite. This will bring me to the foot of Stain- 
more, and it would be difficult to turn me there if I thought 
Mrs. Morritt and you were on the other side. I should 
like to know how this will suit with your motions. 

In consequence of the success of Rokeby and some other 
favourable circumstances, I am now busied with clearing 
off all old scores and scraping together my little property 

1 Mr. Harry Brevoort, a friend (April 23rd) the appreciative letter 
of Washington Irving, sent the printed in Irving's Life, vol. i. 
book to Scott, who wrote in reply p. 197. 



1813] TO MORRITT 297 

for the benefit of the brats, and by Christmas I have every 
reason to hope that I shall find myself a free man of the 
forest, with some thousand pounds in my pocket, besides 
my house and the farm of Abbotsford. But in these cursed 
times I cannot as formerly get cash for my bookseller's 
bills. . . . This will certainly be my last transaction of the 
kind : for should I write again, I will rather keep the copy- 
right than subject myself to these inconveniences. Indeed 
I was partly aware it would have been better to do so with 
.Rokeby, but I wished to buy Abbotsford and settle myselt 
on the Tweed, without which I think I could hardly have 
been quite happy anywhere. . . . Above all let me know if 
I shall find you at Kokeby when I part with the great 
Marquis. I should tell you how well the wild flowers 
from Thorsgill are flourishing at Abbotsford, how the 
currant bushes (wild videlicet) are sprouting out on the 
Abbotswell, all which I hope Mrs. Morritt and you will 
come to see one day or other. Begging my kind compts., 
with all apology for a scrawl written to the tune of a 
pleading which goes very deeply to injure the character 
of Ossian Macpherson, — Ever yours truly, 

W. Scott. 

FROM MORRITT. 

Eokeby 29th June [1813]. 

... I feared for the success of your scheme of Trier- 
main from all I heard in London. There was a strong 
suspicion of the author, and some of those who knew you 
best were not to be deceived. W. Rose exclaimed directly : 
" Ant Erasmi est aut Diaboli" and many others swore it 
was yours. I told more lies about it than an Old Bailey 
Evidence, and only hope you are prepared to answer 
for my sins, and won't leave me to be punished for serving 
your cause, so long as dried pease are to be found, by which 
you can walk occasional penances 'pro salute animaz mew. 



298 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [June 

But tho' the suspicion will prevent the review of the Bridal 
of Triermain, whence arises this ominous silence about 
Rokeby ? I was told Jeffrey had prepared that article for 
the last review, and then struck it out, and delayed the 
volume till another was written to fill its place. Tell me 
what you know of this manoeuvre. . . . 

I have to thank you for Joanna Baillie. I dined in 
company with her at Lady Milbanke's, introduced myself 
in your name, was graciously received, and we " swore an 
eternal friendship," 1 a vow I mean to keep. She is a 
delightful person, and I hope she thinks me the same. 
Besides, her unaffected and unassuming genius was made 
more piquant in my eyes by the Rev. Dr. Parr and Lord 
Erskine, who were of the same dinner, and who each puffed 
the other in alternate compliments, which were mutually 
accepted and carried to account, till it was almost impos- 
sible to refrain from laughing at a scene fully equal to one 
of Foote's best farces. You shall have the particulars in 
August, and judge of the treat we had. Vanity in all its 
various modifications was never so brilliantly displayed, 
and after all there is nothing so entertaining. 

Lord Byron has written a new poem, and in compli- 
ment, I suppose, to Rogers' Epic, has published it as a 
fragment, and dedicated it to him. I hope the joke will 
not become universal, for it is very conceited, and spoils, 
moreover, a good poem. He calls it the Giaour, a word 
that has sadly plagued the bas-bleu, for they cannot talk 
about it till we Turks have instructed them in the true 
pronunciation. He has paid you an involuntary tribute, 
for in many of his passages he has copied your manner ; 
but he seems fated to compliment and to cultivate every 
man in turn whom his earlier productions abused. The 
story, where it is told at all, is powerfully and spiritedly 
done. . . . 

1 See Canning's Rovers. 



1813] FROM JOANNA BAILLIE 299 

FKOM JOANNA BAILLIE. 

Eyland, Honiton, July 1st, 1813. 

My dear Friend, — ... I have met with your friend 
Mr. Morritt, and begun, I hope, an acquaintance with him ; 
for I should be sorry to think that what is past is all 
I shall ever have of his society. I had the good luck to 
find myself seated next to him at dinner at Sir R. Mil- 
banke's, tho' we had not been introduced to each other, 
and had the luck also, while I was struggling with my own 
foolish reserve for something to say to him, to be spoken 
to by him first. This made all easy. We talked about 
you and Boheby and some other agreeable subjects, and 
I found myself so much placed to my heart's content, that 
all the wit and learning of Dr. Parr, who sat smoking his 
pipe in great glory at the other end of the long table, 
was entirely lost to me without regret. . . . 

This, then, is one of the two things ; the other is getting 
acquainted with Miss Edgeworth. If you would give a 
silver sixpence, as you say, to see us together, each of us 
would, I am sure, have given a silver crown (no small part 
now of the real cash contained in anybody's purse) to have 
seen you a third in our party. I have found her a frank, 
animated, sensible, and amusing woman, entirely free from 
affectation of any kind, and of a confiding and affectionate 
and friendly disposition that has really gained upon my 
heart. We met a good many times in large parties, and 
thrice in a more familiar way ; and when we parted she 
was in tears like one who takes leave of an old friend. 
She has been received by everybody, the first in literature 
and the first in rank, with the most gratifying eagerness and 
respect, and has pleased — I should rather say delighted — 
them all. She is cheerful, and talks easily and fluently, seems 
interested in every subject that comes into play, and tells 
her little anecdote or story (when her father does not take 



300 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS ' [July 

it out of her mouth) very pleasantly. However, in regard 
to her father, tho' it is the fashion to call him a great bore, 
she is not so much hampered as she must have been 
when in Edin r , where I was told she could not get 
leave to speak to anybody, and therefore kept in the back- 
ground wherever she went. When they take up the 
same thing now they have a fair wrangle (tho' a good- 
humoured one) for it, and she as often gets the better as 
he. He is, to be sure, a strange mortal, with no great 
tact, as it is called, and some small matters of conceit ; yet 
his daughter is so strongly attached to him that I am sure 
he must have some real good in him ; and, convinced of 
this, I have taken a goodwill to him in spite of fashion, 
and maintain that if he would just speak one half of what 
he speaks he would be a very agreeable man. 

You would have been amused if you had seen with 
what eagerness people crowded to get a sight of Miss 
Edgeworth, — who is very short, — peeping over shoulders 
and between curl'd tetes to get but one look. She said 
very well herself, at a party where I met her, that the crowd 
closed over her. She did indeed cause a strange commo- 
tion ; and had Mad m Stael come as she was expected at the 
same time, I don't know what would have happened ; the 
town must have run mad altogether. She, Mad m Stael, 
is now arrived, and has the whole field to herself; but her 
reign for this season must be short, as the company will so 
soon leave town. . . . 

I have been reading lately Lord Byron's new poem, the 
Giaour, which I suppose you have seen. There are beauti- 
ful passages in it ; the sinking of the body into the sea, the 
murder of Hassan, and the simile of the butterfly chased 
by a child, compared to another vain pursuit, which is 
eminently beautiful, etc. ; and on the first reading, notwith- 
standing the strange broken way of insinuating the story, 
it pleased me exceedingly. However, after being open- 



1813] FKOM JOANNA BAILLIE 301 

mouthed in its praise for a day or two, when I came to 
read it a second time, a great part of the charm, I know 
not how, had fled. He is satisfied with giving the energy 
of passion, without its nobleness and grace, and one cannot 
be the least interested for either Leila or her Giaour, but 
very well satisfied that they should either be drowned or 
confined in a monastery, as the poet may see fit. Hassan is 
the only person in the story that I could sympathize with. 

Lord B. has no mean portion of native genius ; but he 
seems to me, notwithstanding the very different character 
of his persons and stories, to have Walter Scott perpetually 
in his eye. I wonder if he is himself aware of this, 
and whether he would not be ready to break my head for 
saying so. There were touches here and there at which I 
could not help calling out your name, viz., where he says, 
on the ambushed foes firing on the followers of Hassan 
four or five — I forget the number — came to the ground, 
and " three shall never mount again." I say not this to his 
discredit ; I believe he has not imitated such graces from 
you, but caught them. Tho' passion, as he chuses to paint 
it, is revolting, yet it is naturally and forcibly expressed, 
and if he thought more worthily of human nature he 
might, I should think, excel in tragedy, and possibly he 
may turn his thoughts this way. 

How I have filled up my paper with I don't know what. 
Farewell ! it is time to have done. I hope this will find 
yourself and Mrs. Scott and the children well, and offer 
my kindest wishes most cordially. — With all kind and 
sisterly goodwill, yours truly, J. Baillie. 

TO MORRITT. 

Abbotsfobd, Melrose, \Zth July 1813. 
. . . Here we are alfresco at length enjoying the sweet 
air of Tweedside, instead of the stifling fumes of the Parlia- 
ment House. Old Hutton, the Geologist, parens et infre- 



302 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [July 

quens Deorum cultor, used to say it was worth while going 
to a presbyterian kirk for the pleasure of coming out, and 
truly I am of the same opinion as to the Court of Session. 
Everything is flourishing here magnificently, and some of 
my new planted trees actually rival an expanded umbrella 
in height and extent of shade. I was fortunate enough to 
be in town when Lord Compton and Mr. Pemberton passed 
through. They appear to be very good young men. 1 I 
spent part of Sunday in showing them the Abbey and 
other inemorables, and they dined and spent the day with 
us. I have given them a letter to Mrs. Clephane, for as 
they are bound for Staffa, and the Laird is not at Ulva, it 
will be a point of consequence to find them some accom- 
modation in the land of mist and billows. 

Your account of Jeffrey's retreat was the right reading. 
I remember seeing the young lady, some time ago, at his 
house at dinner. There is I believe a family connection 
between the parties ! Meantime the Review is put into 
commission. John Murray, Professor Playfair, and some 
third person whom I forget (Thos. Thomson, I believe), are 
the Commissioners. What halcyon days for poor bards 
and authors ! I think Triermain begins to be more 
noticed. I hear much of it in society, and nobody with us 
smokes the truth. We keep our purpose of being at 
Eokeby in the first week of August, though we are in some 
degree dependent on the motions of our great Marquis. My 
present intention is to be at Drumlanrig about the 25th, 

1 Morritt wrote ..." You will Pemberton, a young Shropshire 

very likely hear of me about the gentleman. They stayed here four 

time you receive this, from Lord or five days, and I hope will make 

Compton and Mr. Pemberton, two an interesting tour, 

young friends of mine, who are I hear Jeffrey's tour to America 

travelling your road, and to whom is not to avoid, but to fetch a wife, 

I gave a letter for you, as I wished and that she is a niece of Johnny 

to procure them the opportunity of Wilkes, bred and born in America, 

seeing Edinburgh under your aus- What a portentous conjunction of 

pices. Lord Compton is Lord philosophic republicanism i " 
Northampton's eldest son, and Mr. 



1813] TO MORRITT 303 

where I shall see what the Duke of Buccleuch is making 
of his new domain, and lend him some of my Gothic 
knowledge, if he will accept it, to put his castle into repair. 
I am told it is a grand old chateau, but my own early re- 
collections make it a very gloomy one. Will there be any 
chance of Heber's being in Yorkshire in August ? I fear 
not ; he skips about like a flea in a blanket, and no man 
knows where to find him. . . . 



TO THE SAME 



Brough, Sunday, IQth August 1813. 

My dear Morritt, — Our disappointment of this morn- 
ing, which on any other occasion would have been the 
theme of sufficient mortification, is quite lost in anxiety 
about dear Mrs. Morritt's health. I trust this will find her 
continuing better, and would never have forgiven you had 
you allowed us upon any point of mere ceremony (and 
what better could our meeting, under such circumstances, 
have been) to have come forward at the risk of disturbing 
her. When we hear that she is getting stout we will talk 
of taking amends for our little tour, either on our return 
from London, if we go there next spring, or by your coming 
to Abbotsford next autumn, for my cottage, though very 
small, has room for Mrs. Morritt and you. All this dis- 
cussion will be for a happier moment ; meanwhile I write 
chiefly to assure you of our deep and sincere interest in 
your present distress, and to beg you will let me know how 
Mrs. Morritt is, by a line addressed to Abbotsford, where 
we will be I think by Saturday. I intend going a little 
out of the direct road to spend a day or two with Southey, 
if I have the good fortune to find him at home at Keswick. 
— Believe me ever, dear Morritt, most faithfully yours, 

Walter Scott. 

1 After leaving Lord Abercorn the alarming illness of Mrs. Morritt, 
Scott proceeded towards Kokeby, and turned his steps to Keswick, 
but on reaching Brough he heard of 



304 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [Aug. 

TO M. W. HARTSTONGE. 

Abbotsford, 21st August [1813]. 

. . . We were delighted with Drumlanrig, which is a 
most princely abode, a large Gothic quadrangular building 
in style and character not unlike Heriot's Hospital in 
Edinburgh, and plann'd by the same great master, Inigo 
Jones. 1 It is situated on the extremity of a lofty hill, which 
projects like a sort of promontory from a mountainous 
background, and overlooks a large tract of comparatively 
open country, so that the castle looks quite the queen 
of the valley. The Nith runs near it, through a most 
romantic channel of broken rocks, where the walk of the 
last Duchess of Queensberry, " fair Kitty, blooming, young 
and gay," is led with some taste, but the park and the 
mountains are sorely divested of wood, the late abominable 
" old Q." having laid the axe to the root with a witness. 2 

After ten days' residence with our Chief and his Lady, 
we strolled on as far as Keswick, where I spent a day with 
Southey. He read me some parts of a poem to be entitled 
Bon Roderick (the last Gothic King of Spain being the 
hero). It is most highly impressive, and what is curious, he 
has a picture of Don Koderick at confession, an exact pen- 
dant or counterpart to mine, for he represents him a man 
more sinned against than sinning. As he had not seen my 
verses, the coincidence was very striking. 3 

As for myself the sight of Carlisle Castle set me trump- 
ing up a tale (not for publication, being too wild and 
clannish), called Kinmont Willie : you will find the story 
in the Border Minstrelsy. If I have ever courage to write 
out my tale, you shall have a copy. — I ever am, most 
truly yours, Walter Scott. 

1 The Architect of Heriot's Hos- carried on by William Aytoun. 
pital, Edinburgh, is now generally 2 William, third Earl of March 

understood to have been W. Wal- and fourth Duke of Queensberry. 
lace, "the King's Master Mason." 3 See Scott's Poetical Works, 

At his death in 1631, the work was vol. ix. pp. 376-7. 



1813] TO LADY ABERCORN 305 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Sept. 3d, 1813. 

My dear Lady Abercorn, — Our little trip was soon 
ended, and we got into all our cottage routine without any 
incident worth telling, excepting that I have been surprised 
by an offer of the situation of poet laureate, vacant by the 
death of Mr. Pye. This was very handsome on the part of 
the Prince Regent, and I feel flattered accordingly; but 
there were many reasons against accepting the appoint- 
ment, and I have accordingly declined it, with every ex- 
pression of respect and gratitude. The necessity of writing 
odes twice a year is a difficulty which no one ought to en- 
counter who has any poetical character to lose ; at least I 
am sure I should find it insurmountable. The thing might 
be easily done in a decent sort of way as old Whitehead 
himself describes it — 

" Whose Muse obliged by sack and pension 
Without a subject or invention, 
Must certain words in order set 
As innocent as a Gazette, 
Must some half meaning half disguise, 
And utter neither truth nor lies." 

But this mediocrity of performance is precisely what is most 
intolerable in poetry, and I should neither have done 
justice to the Prince's judgment nor credit to my own, had 
I accepted it without the hope of doing something better 
than making milk-and-water verses about the " natal day " 
and the " new-born year." When the office was offered to 
Gray, it was offered as a sinecure, and indeed I think it 
would become the Prince's good taste to abolish the absurd 
and ridiculous usage of compelling a poor devil to write 
bad verses twice a year, by way of honouring the royal 
family and ministry for the time being ; and until this be 
done, I think it will be difficult to get a man of real talent, 
unless from the mere love of the salary, to undertake the 
office. As for myself, all I have to fear in the matter is 
vol. i. u 



306 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Sept. 

that some busy misrepresenter may whisper in the 
Regent's ear, that some Kensington House 1 partialities 
rendered me unwilling to accept an office in the Royal 
Household so handsomely offered by H. R. H's express 
direction. I trust however this will not be the case, 
as I have stated frankly that any poetical efforts which 
may have attracted H. R. H's approbation have been 
free and spontaneous, and that I fear to trammel myself 
with the regular discharge of a constant and recurring 
poetical commemoration, — that I could not be exculpated if 
I accepted the situation so honourably tendered to me, 
unless I was conscious of the power of approaching to such 
excellence as might vindicate the selection the Prince had 
made, that besides I held professional appointments of 
some value, and this seemed to be one of the few things 
calculated to provide for some literary person who had no 
other adequate establishment or opening to fortune. All 
this I stated as civilly as I possibly could, and I think the 
Prince, who has both good sense and good taste, will easily 
understand that there may be other reasons which cannot 
so well be written, why I should reject the wreath " profaned 
by Cibber and contemned by Gray." . . . 

TO C. CARPENTER. 

Abbotsford, Sept. 3d, 1813. 

My dear Carpenter, — I have just got your letter of 
10th of February, and a fortnight before Charlotte re- 
ceived the valuable and much admired package of cottons 
and long cloths, which she values still more as a pledge of 
Mrs. Carpenter's regard and friendship. Our little girls 
will be all as fine as so many little Queens, and Charlotte 
herself will feel no little pride and satisfaction in appearing 
in a dress which she owes to the kindness of so valued a 

1 Then the residence of the Princess of Wales. 



1813] TO C. CARPENTER 307 

relation. I observe Mrs. Carpenter finally purposes leaving 
India in October. I should like very much to be in Eng- 
land on her arrival, and if possible, I will certainly contrive 
it. We have two months' vacation from 12th March to 
12th May, during which time I should think it likely 
Mrs. Carpenter will reach Britain, and should she then 
think of coming North, I will undertake to be her escort, 
if she will accept me. . . . 

Our domestic news is limited to our being all well; 
the little people are much what I could wish them, very 
affectionate to each other, and dutiful to us ; they have all 
rather good parts, and little Charles, your name-son, shews 
marks of genius which may perhaps turn to something 
remarkable. But as our Scotch proverb says, " It is a long 
time to the saddling of a foal." . . . 

TO MORRITT. 

Abbotsford, 4th September [1813]. 

My dear Morritt, — Our journey here was of course 
not the pleasantest considering the state in which we left 
Mrs. Morritt's health. And on taking up our usual occu- 
pations my quiet has been disturbed by the offer of the 
Laurel, — nothing less if you please. The matter was very 
handsomely meant by the Prince Regent, and as hand- 
somely expressed, and I was somewhat puzzled how to 
avoid the ungracious appearance of flinging an intended 
favour back in the donor's face. But it was impossible to 
think of being Laureate. A sort of ridicule has always 
attached to the character, and Horace himself could not 
have made the regular duty of the office decently respect- 
able. Besides, the country has done its part by me, and 
this appointment seems rather to belong to some one who 
has dedicated his time to literature, independent of every 
other profession. Last of all, a place in the household is 



308 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Sept 

a sort of tie on votes and political conduct, and no man 
ought to pledge himself in these matters, since ministers 
might be changed, and then the Ex-Laureate, which I 
should probably soon be, would make rather an absurd 
figure. So I transmitted my nolo in the civillest terms I 
could devise, 1 and I think you will approve of my having 
done so. I am much more flattered with Marshal 
Beresford's 2 approbation than with that of Principalities 
and Powers. I have a natural love for a soldier, which 
would have been the mode of life I would have chosen in 
preference to all others but for my lameness. And yet I 
made the discovery a good many years since that I should 
have been but an indifferent soldier. The essence of 
military skill rests upon mathematical principle, combined 
with an accurate estimate of the moral and physical facul- 
ties of your own troops, and those who are opposed to you. 
The most simple and effectual mode of bringing a given 
number of men to a certain point at a certain moment is a 
singularly dry study, and yet it comprehends the grand 
principle of military tactics. So I am well contented to 
look at war poetically and to give it all the cast of chivalry 
and romance, which in fact is a mere appendage to the 
reality like the red coats, standard, and kettledrums. But 
my interest remains unabated in those who have fought 
the good fight, and to Marshal Beresford I think we owe 
the splendid example of a regenerated people. The dry 
bones have been warmed into life under his admirable 
management, and I trust he will be spared to enjoy those 
honours which are due to his labours and hazards of every 
description. The meeting at Rokeby will be indeed a joy- 
ous one, and happy shall I be when it takes place. 

1 See Letters to Lord Hertford, reading Rokeby, and he requested 

and Mr. Clarke, the Regent's Lib- Mr. Morritt to convey to the 

rarian, in Life, vol. iv. pp. 106 and author his acknowledgement for 

143. the handsome compliment he had 

a Marshal Beresford had been paid him in Don Roderick. . . . 



1813] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 309 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

... I fear (yet why should I say so in the circum- 
stances?) that the fatal termination of the poor old 
monarch's illness will soon (if it has not already) restore 
Dr. Baillie to his family. I would I could augur well of 
what is to follow, but, alas ! a public defiance of morality 
is but a bad bottoming for a new reign ; it is incalculable, 
the weight which George the III. derived from his domestic 
conduct. But we must hope the best, and none is more 
willing to hope it than I, who would do my little best for 
the Crown of England if it hung upon a hedge stake. 
When I shall come to rummage your portfolio and eat 
your pudding at Hampstead is very uncertain. If I should 
walk in the morning after you receive my letter, pray 
do not take me for a wraith ; 1 but it is much more likely 
I shall not see London for several years as I did not come 
up this summer when I had real and serious business to 
do. My most agreeable errand will be to claim the pro- 
mised communication of your future plans. — Adieu, God 
bless you, W. Scott. 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Abbotsford, 6th November 1813. 

Many thanks, my dearest friend, for your kind letter, 
which found us loitering away our time as usual by what 
some one calls "well-sung Tweed's baronial stream." It 
is really a fine, though not a very large, river when it passes 
my kingdom of Barataria, and is at this moment mustering 
up all its waters with a voice like distant thunder. Alas ! 
it is a summons for me to prepare for scenes of a very 
different kind, and to abandon my cottage for the noise 
and dissonance of our law courts which commence their 

1 An apparition in likeness of a person appearing soon before or soon 
after death. — Jamieson. 



310 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

sessions on the 11th. I cannot say with the patient sub- 
mission of Blackstone — 

" Then welcome business, welcome strife, 
Welcome the cares and thorns of life, 
The drowsy bench, the babbling hall, 
For thee, fair Justice, welcome all." x 

On the contrary, I fear if Justice slept till I went to Edin- 
burgh to wake her, her votaries would think her deaf as 
well as blind. But go I must, and it is no small comfort 
to think we have had the most delightful season ever 
remembered in Scotland, and that part of it was employed, 
my dear friend, in meeting you. 2 

Mrs. Morritt, whose indisposition alarmed us not a 
little, is getting better, — not so much so, however, as to 
give great confidence in her future health. 

I am sorry nothing can be done for poor Maturin; 
but I cannot think of intruding myself upon Lord 

1 The Lawyer's Farewell to his at an early hour in the morning, 
Muse. and everything was now arranged 

2 It is worth repeating Scott's for his reception in the paltry little 
description of Lord Abercorn's public-house, as nearly as possible 
attelage and mode of travelling to in the style usual in his own lordly 
and from Ireland. He met the pro- mansions. The ducks and geese 
cession between Carlisle and Long- that had been dabbling three or 
town : — " The ladies of the family four hours ago in the village pond 
and the household occupied four were now ready to make their ap- 
or five carriages, all drawn by the pearance under numberless dis- 
Marquis's own horses, while the guises as entrees ; a regular bill-of- 
noble lord himself brought up the fare flanked the noble Marquis's 
rear, mounted on horseback, but allotted cover ; every huckaback 
decorated with the ribbon of the towel in the place had been pressed 
order of the Garter. On meeting the to do service as a napkin ; and, 
cavalcade, Scott turned with them, that nothing might be wanting to 
and he was not a little amused the mimicry of splendour, the 
when they reached the village of lady's poor remnants of crockery 
Longtown, which he had ridden and pewter had been furbished up, 
through an hour or two before, and mustered in solemn order on a 
with the preparations which he crazy old buffet, which was to 
found there made for the dinner of represent a sideboard worthy of 
the party. The Marquis's major- Lucullus." — Life, iv. p. 95. 

domo and cook had arrived there 



1813] TO LADY ABERCORN 311 

Whitworth, for whose character and situation I have the 
respect which both so eminently demand. What could he 
think of me but as the most conceited coxcomb in the 
world, if because my writings may have given him an hour's 
amusement, I should think myself entitled to intrude any 
one on his patronages merely as a friend of mine ? I never 
saw Mr. Maturin in my life, and probably never shall, nor 
have I any other motive in wishing him well than that 
which I think would be common to me with Lord Whit- 
worth, — the wish namely to assist a man of very con- 
siderable literary powers, and, as I am informed, of a most 
estimable private character, who is fighting manfully with 
adverse circumstances and a feeling mind. As his present 
employment is to receive as pupils and boarders such 
young men as attend Trinity College, it may perhaps be in 
your ladyship's power to mention his name to any of your 
Irish friends who may wish such an accommodation for 
their sons; and in doing so I am convinced you would 
serve them as well as this unfortunate young man. His 
character renders him, I understand, very fit for such 
a trust, and after all it is astonishing how much the 
slightest glimpse of encouragement from such high rank 
and fashion as yours, my dear Lady Marchioness, will 
do for a person in his situation. Your encouragement is 
like a beam of the sun, productive of effects far above your 
own calculation, and if a poor roturier may judge, I think 
it one of the most enviable attributes of rank that you can 
do so much good a peu de frais. What an excellent 
Bishop of London you have given the kingdom in Mr. 
Howley. I hope he has not forgotten me, as I shall be 
quite delighted to register a bishop among my friends. 
His charge is, I should suppose, among the most important 
in England, and the trust could not be reposed in more 
worthy hands. 

So Lord Aberdeen begins to figure in the great game, 



312 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 1813 

and a greater sure was never played for by nations. 1 If I 
had nothing else to do but to indulge a wayward and 
wandering spirit, I think I would set off to make him a 
visit at Commotau, 2 and I would trust to his receiving me 
like a harper in an old ballad — 

u Minstrel, they said thou sing'st so sweet, 
Fair entrance thou shalt win." 

I intend to write to him one of these days to procure me, 
if possible, a sketch or print of the Cossack Hettman 
Platow. An English officer who was known to this 
renowned partisan begged one of his lances to add to my 
collection of arms, but I believe it was lost when the 
French re-entered Hamburg. Platow is a great favourite 
of mine, as well from Sir Robert Wilson's account of him 
formerly, as from his conduct during the campaign of 
Moscow. 

I am truly grieved for what you tell me of a great lady. 
She has thrown away her cards most deplorably in suffer- 
ing herself to be made a catspaw of to serve the purposes 
of the very people who at one time would willingly have 
had her head of£ That she should leave quietly is the 
best her friends can wish her, though it is not, I should 
think, quite agreeable to her temper. 3 

1 Lord Aberdeen had gone as porary headquarters of the Emperor 
special Envoy to Austria from Francis. 

Britain. 

2 Kommotau in Saxony, the tern- 3 The Princess of Wales. 



CHAPTER X 

1814 

EDINBURGH AND ABBOTSFORD 



Wild music peals, the clansman grasps his glaive, 

And Gladsmuir owns that faulchion's deadly sway ; 
Hide, hapless Albyn, hide fair honour's grave, 

And deepest horrors shroud Drummossie's day I 
And bid thy broadest, darkest forest's wave 

Conceal his mountain path, his lowly bed ; 
And bid each mist-clad hill, each dropping cave, 

Shed "dews and wild flowers" on the wanderer's head. 
Ah ! bathe in drops of balm his fever'd brain ; 
Ah ! hide the murder'd friend, the ghastly spectre train. 

Edinburgh Annual Register, vol. iii. p. lxxxviiL 1810. 



FAMILY ANNALS AND LITERARY WORK 
1814— age 43 



Presented with the Freedom of the City of 

Edinburgh, Jan. 5, 1814. 
Voyage in the Light-house Yacht to 

Orkney, Shetland, and Hebrides, July 

29 to Sept. 8. 
Wordsworth visits Abbotsford in sum- 



Account of the Eyrbiggia Saga, published in 
Northern Antiquities. 

Swift's Life and Works, 19 vols. 8vo, pub- 
lished by Constable, July. 

Waverley, 3 vols. 12mo, published by Con- 
stable, 7th July. 



CHAPTER X. 



TO MISS SMITH. 



January 8th, [1814], 

... I see by to-day's Courier that you have been again 
summoned to the presence of royalty ; so you will be quite 
a court lady, and we will all ask favours of you. I shall 
certainly be both curious and pleased to see a woman of 
Made, de Stael's literary reputation, though probably I 
may see very little of her, unless particularly introduced, 
for you know our circle is a very small one, and she will 
be quite immersed among all the gay parties of this 
northern metropolis. They are all, I hear, dying to 
see her; but our latest reports on the subject will not 
allow that there is now much chance of their being grati- 
fied, for we hear her Scottish journey is postponed. . . . 

Coleridge has succeeded so well that I trust he will 
write again. There is perhaps too much of the mist of 
metaphysics in his dialogue, but he is naturally a grand 
poet. His verses on Love, I think, are among the most 
beautiful in the English language. Let me know if you 
have seen them, as I have a copy of them as they stood in 
their original form, which was afterwards altered for the 
worse. . . . 

I can tell you almost nothing of our household. Two 
nights since we were at a splendid gala of the Duke of 
Buccleuch on Twelfth-night. The Duchess was so kind as 
to ask Walter and Sophia, who, as they had never seen 
anything of the kind, were enchanted beyond description. 
The whole house was open'd and illuminated, and I think 

315 



316 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Jan. 

there were about 300 guests; so that even to my eyes, 
pretty much accustomed to fine parties from some London 
experience, the effect was strikingly magnificent; and I 
was proud of it, for the honour of my chieftain and clan. 

We spent the summer at Abbotsford, which is far from 
being so pleasant as Ashestiel, all the planting being of my 
own making ; but everybody (after abusing me for buying 
the ugliest place on Tweedside) begins now to come over 
to my side. I think it will be very pretty six or seven 
years hence, whoever may come to see and enjoy, for the 
sweep of the river is a very fine one of almost a mile in 
length, and the ground is very unequal and therefore well 
adapted for showing off trees. The opposite side belongs to 
my friend and kinsman, young Scott of Gala, who has in 
the kindest possible manner planted any banks which could 
assist my prospect. 

Mrs. Scott sends kind compliments, and I ever am, 
my dear little friend, very truly yours, 

Walter Scott. 



TO MORRITT. 

15th Jany. 1814. 

Once more many and kind thanks to you. But I can- 
not express the pain your letter gives me on Mrs. Morritt's 
account and yours. I had heard something of it from 
Lady Douglas, but not till two days since. I trust in God 
that she will be able to persevere in the course which may 
be recommended to ensure a life so necessary to your 
happiness, and to that of all who know her. Have you 
consulted Baillie ? I have great faith in him ; he has less 
quackery than is usual in his profession, and is a most up- 
right and sound- thinking man. Alas, my dear friend, this is 
one of those cases in which we offer every advice at random, 
with scarce the hope of suggesting anything that has 



1814] TO MOREITT 317 

not occurred to the sufferer. And what can I say in the 
way of consolation, but what your own religion and philo- 
sophy back an hundred times better than those maxims 
which, even when the motive cannot be doubted, serve but 
to aggravate instead of allaying the feelings of affection, 
wounded as yours ? Would to God it were in my power to 
say or do anything which could amuse Mrs. M., for judging 
from what you say, much of the disorder necessarily lies 
in the nerves, and might perhaps be subject to be occasion- 
ally relieved by amusement. At any rate I am sure if 
Mrs. M. sees how much you suffer, and you are not the 
sort of person to conceal it unless by busying yourself in 
speaking or reading, your distress is the most likely thing 
to add to her disorder. You must therefore put a con- 
straint on yourself, while she is undergoing a painful pro- 
cess which I trust will end in restoration of her health ; 
and if you think that by writing frequently or sending you 
the trifles of the day, I could aid you in a task so painful, 
I will be the most faithful correspondent you ever had in 
your life. 1 Poor Walter, who has not forgot Mrs. Morritt's 
kindness of last year, turned quite pale and then red, and 
then broke into tears, and ran from table when he heard 
she was very unwell, which was great feeling for a rough 
High-school boy. I need not say how much Mrs. Scott 
shares in all your distress. 

It takes away great part of my wish to see London this 
spring, unless I heard Mrs. Morritt were getting better, 
and will be an additional motive for my wishing to take 
a short tour upon the Continent, which will be open to 
us if these wonderful good news continue. 

Pray inquire after my letter if you have not received 
it. There may be things in it which I should not like to 
fall into other hands. 

1 It will be seen that one of the was sent for Mrs. Morritt's enter- 
earliest printed copies of Waverlty tainment. 



318 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [Jan. 

I do not send any compliments to Mrs. M. because 
you must not read her this letter, but you will not doubt 
my best and most friendly wishes, as well as Charlotte's. 
— Yours ever, Walter Scott. 



TO THE SAME. 

Nothing could be more welcome, my dear Morritt, 
than your two last letters announcing a lightening in the 
domestic horizon, lately so unhappily overclouded. I 
trust your new regimen for our dear friend will succeed, 
and that she will be supported by the state of your hopes 
and spirits. In the strange and inexplicable combination 
of our body and soul, the former is much supported even 
in the most trying circumstances by the elasticity of the 
mind, and I know Mrs. Morritt's feelings will depend much 
upon yours even during the period of extreme weakness. 
It is wonderful how stomach complaints assume forms 
capable of deceiving the best medical men. My friend 
Rutherford of Edgerston languished for two years under 
a disease with the most alarming symptoms — faintings, 
cold sweats, total loss of appetite, perpetual and most 
oppressive headaches and low fever. He found a 
physician however at Bath, who discovered that the cause 
of all this misery were some obstructions which he con- 
trived to remove by severe medicine, and to my great 
pleasure, I find my old friend as lively, active, and able to 
drink a glass of claret as ever he was in his life. It is the 
most extraordinary recovery I ever witnessed, and shews 
how the worst symptoms may give way to proper treat- 
ment, when the radical cause of mischief is once fairly 
ascertained. 

We have had here the most severe snow-storm I ever 
witnessed, excepting 1795. The London Mails were stopp'd 
for four days, a circumstance almost unheard of, and they 



1814] TO MOREITT 319 

still come irregularly. Two Kussian friends of Lord 
Pembroke who lived a good deal with us were the loudest 
in their complaints of the cold weather, and astonished 
to see everybody enduring it without furs. The eldest a 
Mons. Politica (an excellent name for a diplomatist, which 
is his profession) is a very well informed and pleasant man, 
and has been over the whole world, I believe. His com- 
panion is a very good and pleasant young man, Mons. 
Severin, son of the Minister of Justice at Petersburg. 
There is little chance of your meeting them in the present 
circumstances, but should it so happen, I think you will 
like them. Have you observed in the Courier a very 
magnificent account of the Battle of Leipsic by an eye- 
witness — not a military detail, but what is more interesting 
to a non-combatant, the general impression received by a 
distant spectator of this tremendous scene ? I have written 
to London for the pamphlet which, if it corresponds with 
the extract, must be one of the most interesting I ever 
read. 1 It has all the materials for painting or poetry richly 
scattered through it. Pray send for it if you have not 
already perused it, and let me have your opinion. 

I send you enclosed an etching done to the life by my 
friend Charles Sharpe. You don't know him I think, but 
Lady Louisa does. The likeness you will readily recognise, 
at least so I am told, for I never saw Corinne. Don't say 
you got it from me, as I have no wish to commit myself 
with a Lady of such literary distinction, and who, besides, 
threatens us with a visit here, where I may probably have 
the curiosity to see her at least, though only from 
curiosity. 

As your conscience has very few things to answer for, 
you must still burthen it with the secret of the Bridal. 
It is spreading very rapidly, and I have one or two little 
faery romances which will make a second volume, and 

1 Shobert's Narrative from 14th to 19th October 1813, Lond. 1814. 



320 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Jan. 

which I would wish published, but not with niy name. 
The truth is that this sort of muddling work amuses me, 
and I am something in the condition of Joseph Surface 
who was embarrassed by getting himself too good a reputa- 
tion; for many things would please people well enough 
anonymously, which, if they bore me on the title-page, 
would just give me that sort of ill-name which precedes 
hanging, and that would be in many respects inconvenient 
if I thought of again trying a grande opus. I will give 
you a hundred good reasons when we meet for not 
owning the Bridal till I either secede entirely from the 
field of literature, or from that of life. 

Poor Weber could not have intruded upon you ; he is, 
I find, — and I am glad to find it, — put under medical 
restraint for some time, which I have not the least doubt 
will bring him round. It is a most melancholy business 
and I fear has been helped by distress. 1 

We are raising a subscription (horrid word) for a monu- 
ment to Burns ; an honour long delayed, perhaps till some 
parts of his character were forgotten by those among whom 
he lived. I am anxious to forward it, and if you think you 
can get me a few guineas among your acquaintances when 
you begin to go about a little, I will send you a copy of 
the resolutions. The situation is a very fine one, and if 
the subscription is successful, of which I have little doubt, 
it will be a credit to the country, and a great ornament to 
Dumfries. There are few people who do not owe a guinea 
or two to Burns's memory for the pleasure his works have 
afforded them. 

What a scene Stanley is now witnessing ! 2 I hope he 
keeps a Journal and makes memoranda of all that comes 
under his eyes, both as to the useful, the curious, and the 

1 For an account of Weber, 2 Morritt's nephew, who was 

Scott's amanuensis, see Life, pas- then with Sir George Kose in 
sim. Germany. 



1814] TO MOREITT 321 

picturesque. I wish our prisoners could be delivered at 
Verdun. I think if a polt of Cossacks were promised a 
thousand pounds or so from the patriotic fund, they would 
contrive to redeem them. Jock of the Side, Wat of 
Harden, or any of our border moss-troopers, — a kind of 
Cossack in their own way — would have made a good hand 
of such a job. . . . Charlotte sends a thousand kind wishes 
to Mrs. Morritt. — Yours ever, W. Scott. 

TO THE DUCHESS OF BUCCLEUCH. 

March 1814. 

The Draft for £10, 10s. I will transmit to the Ettrick 
bard as soon as I reach Edin 1 ', and I am afraid it will 
be with him as with Bayes's army, who exclaimed on a 
similar donation, " We have not seen so much the Lord 
knows when." x But I trust his gratitude will be equal to 
your kindness and munificence. 

Your Grace does me but justice in supposing how 
deeply I was interested in the dreadful misfortune at 
Ditton. 2 But in lamenting so many things which money 
cannot repair, and especially the curious old library which 
I had so often wished to rummage, we must not forget the 
consolatory view of the disaster, but be thankful that con- 
sequences more melancholy and equally irretrievable have 
not taken place. ... If your Grace will suppose me 
chatting to you, I will tell you of a letter, that is the 
contents of one, which my mother used to inculcate upon 
us when in the nursery, as containing a sovereign antidote 
in cases like that of Ditton. While she was residing with 
an uncle on the sea-coast of East Lothian, a small brig, 
ship and cargo, the property of the master who sailed her, 
chanced to be stranded near their place of residence on a 
stormy winter night. The master and crew were with 
difficulty saved from the wreck, which shortly after, in the 

1 The Rehearsal. 2 The destruction by fire of Ditton Park near Windsor. 
VOL. I. X 



322 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [March 

sea-phrase, parted, and was totally lost. The sailors were 
brought to my uncle's house as the nearest place of 
hospitable refuge, but the master refused even to taste food 
or approach a fire till he had given his wife an account of 
his disaster in these words, which he gave to my relative 
in an unsealed billet, — "Dear Annie, the Lovely Peggy 
(i.e. his ship) is no more, but let not your heart be cast 
down for the loss of world's gear (worldly wealth) while I 
am Adam Greig." The poor fellow was sensible, and truly 
so doubtless, that all could be replaced to his wife and 
family while he was well and able to exert himself to 
repair his loss. 1 

There has been dreadful weather till to-day. The snow 
lay thick both on the hills and fields here yesterday, and 
continued falling thick and fast the whole day, with a 
north-east wind, which might boast some six weeks' 
duration. All of a sudden we have this morning waked 
in absolute summer, greatly to the refreshment of the 
young lambs and grass and corn, not forgetting my young 
trees and shrubs at Abbotsford. 

There are no news in the forest, unless a report that the 
Duke takes Newark into his own hand, as the phrase is, 
which, if it prove true, will make Bowhill one of the finest 
Highland places in Scotland. 

TO MORRITT. 

[Spring, 1814.] 

My dear Morritt, — . . . Jeffrey is returned here with 
his bride, very gay and very full of news. He had a grand 
skirmish with Madison, of which he gave me a very 

1 Scott had another story of the ship and cargo, to be remembered 

Lovely Peggy at an earlier stage in the prayers o' the congregation, 

when the unregenerate smuggler, he wad say to me-' they may pray 

John Blower, was her skipper. His that stand the risk, Peggy Bryce, for 

widow said, "When I wad hae I've made insurance.'" — St.Bonan's 

had him'gie up the Lovely Peggy, Well, W.N. vol. xxxiii. p. 119. 



1814] TO MOEEITT 323 

diverting account. He describes the President as being an 
exceedingly mean-looking little man, who met him with 
three little ducking bows, and then extended a yellow 
withered hand to him like an old duck's foot. After these 
symptoms of fraternization, he proceeded to question the 
critic very solemnly touching the nature of the sensations 
which the American war excited in the British public. To 
which Jeffrey replied in his best poco curante style, that 
he believed nobody in Britain thought anything at all 
about the American war, and that he thought it likely 
that many well-informed people did not know that we 
were at war at all. Something, he said, he had heard 
about it at Liverpool, and once or twice when we heard of 
a frigate, 1 we used to wonder for a day and then think 
no more about it. He then gave battle on the principle 
of the war, saying that we only exercised the rights of 
nations, and that if America wanted a new international 
code, it was his business to propose such a one as might 
suit both parties, since otherwise we must go on exercising 
the acknowledged right vested in us by the law of nations, 
and defending ourselves when attacked, so that the war 
was quite defensive on our part. This, Madison told him 
very bitterly, was a mere verbal pleasantry. Jeffrey says 
that Madison is a mortal enemy to this country, and 
has been prophesying for four or five years past that 
every year would be the last of Britain's greatness. He 
adds too that Madison and his ministry are heartily 
tired of the war, and would fain back out of it if they 
could do so without giving great advantages to the other 
party. 2 

1 The success of the American their ships extorted the respect of 

frigates in single encounters with their opponents, 

the English during this unfortunate 2 President Madison, as sketched 

war was not only disagreeable but by a fellow-citizen, was a little, 

unexpected. At the same time stoutish man, with powdered hair, 

the skill and courage with which and penetrating blue eye, grave in 

the Americans handled and fought manner, and slow in speech, cer- 



324 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [July 

I think he has returned a much better subject than he 
went away, but when Brougham and Horner worry him 
a little I suppose he will hold his own tenets. He is very 
violent against peace with Bonaparte if the allies are 
disposed to carry on the war to his utter destruction. On 
the other hand, he told me this morning that he thought 
it would be very unreasonable to blame ministers for 
acceding to the best peace they could get if the Court 
of Austria would not proceed with the war. 

TO THE SAME. 1 

9th July 1814. 

My dear Morritt, . . . Now, I must account for my 
own laziness, which I do by referring you to a small 
anonymous sort of a novel, in three volumes, which you 
will receive by the mail of this day. It was a very old 
attempt of mine to embody some traits of those characters 
and manners peculiar to Scotland, the last remnants of 
which vanished during my own youth, so that few or no 
traces now remain. I had written great part of the first 
volume, and sketched other passages, when I mislaid the 
MS., and only found it by the merest accident as I was 
rummaging the drawers of an old cabinet ; and I took the 
fancy of finishing it, which I did so fast that the last two 
volumes were written in three weeks. I had a great deal 
of fun in the accomplishment of this task, though I do not 

tainly a great contrast to Jeffrey's * This short extract from a letter 

slim, active little figure and sharp already printed is the first refer - 

incisive voice. A more becoming ence to Waverley in the correspond- 

account of the interview is given in ence now before me. Beyond 

Cockburn's Life, where we are told Erskine, the Ballantynes, and 

that Jeffrey sought it for the pur- Constable, Morritt appears to have 

pose of securing a safe passage for been the only friend intrusted 

himself and his wife in a cartel with the secret at this date, 

ship. See also Washington Irving's The book was published on 7th 

Life, vol. i. p. 248, for Brevoort's July, 
letter of introduction to Jeffrey. 



1814] TO MORRITT 325 

expect that it will be popular in the South, as much of the 
humour, if there be any, is local, and some of it even pro- 
fessional. You, however, who are an adopted Scotchman, 
will find some amusement in it. It has made a very 
strong impression here, and the good people of Edinburgh 
are busied in tracing the author, and in finding out 
originals for the portraits it contains. In the first case, 
they will probably find it difficult to convict the guilty 
author, although he is far from escaping suspicion, for 
Jeffrey has offered to make oath that it is mine, and 
another great critic has tendered his affidavit ex contrario ; 
so that these authorities have divided the good town. 
However, the thing has succeeded very well, and is thought 
highly of. I don't know if it has got to London yet. I 
intend to maintain my incognito. Let me know your 
opinion about it. I should be most happy if I could think 
it would amuse a painful thought at this anxious moment. 
I was in hopes Mrs. Morritt was getting so much better 
that this relapse affects me very much. 

FROM MORRITT. 

July Uth, [1814]. 

My dear Scott, — How the story of Waverley may con- 
tinue in the two last volumes I am not able to divine, but 
as far as we have read pray let us thank you for the castle 
of Tully-Veolan and the delightful drinking bout at Luckie 
Macleary's, no less than for the character of the Laird of 
Balmawhapple, and of William Rose's motley follower, 
commonly yclept Caliban. 1 If the completion of the story 
is equal to what we have just devoured, it deserves a place 
-amongst our standard works. . . . 

Sir Everard, Mrs. Rachel, and the Baron of Bradwar- 

1 Davie Gellatley was thought to have been sketched from David Hinves. 
— See Journal, vol. ii. p. 186, note. 



326 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [July 

dine are, I think, in the first rank of portraits for nature 
and character. . . . The ballad of St. Swithin and scraps of 
old songs were measures of danger if you meant to con- 
tinue in concealment, but you wear your disguise some- 
thing after the manner of our friend Bottom the weaver, 
and the reality will in spite of you peep out. 

Perhaps I like what I have read even more than I 
should at any other time, because never came a kindness 
so gratefully and opportunely. Mrs. Morritt is really 
better than she has been for some time, and in the long 
tedious confinement which such an illness inflicts, and the 
weakness which makes books of amusement the only 
source of her enjoyment, the keenness of pleasure which 
your story has given to her has communicated itself to me. 
She bids me express in the strongest terms how very, 
very much she feels obliged to you for this attempt to 
afford her amusement, and assure you that nothing has 
given her so much delight in reading, as what we have 
read of this story, or in reflecting on, as the kind friend- 
ship which prompted you to send it for her at such a 
time. 1 She has gone to bed with her head full of adventures, 
and I promised her to express to you how much she en- 
joyed them. The strings you have touched of humour and 
pathos depending on national character and real life have, 

1 Scott replies on July 24th just to be a tolerably faithful portrait 
before sailing to the Hebrides. "As of Scottish manners, and has been 
to Waverley, I will play Sir Fretful recognised as such in Edinburgh, 
for once, and assure you that I left The first edition of a thousand in- 
the story to flag in the first volume stantly disappeared, and the book- 
on purpose ; the second and third seller informs me that the second, 
have rather more bustle and interest. of double the quantity, will not sup - 
I wished (with what success Heaven ply the market for long. As I 
knows) to avoid the ordinary error shall be very anxious to know how 
of novel-writers, whose first volume Mrs. Morritt is, I hope to have a 
is usually their best. But since it few lines from you on my return, 
has served to amuse Mrs. Morritt which will be about the end of 
and you usque ab initio, I have no August or beginning of September." 
doubt you will tolerate it even — See Life, vol. iv. pp. 174-5. 
unto the end. It may really boast 



1814] FROM MORRITT 327 

with few exceptions indeed, been so seldom touched that 
they have all the charm of novelty to us, and therefore 
you must not wonder that we as "strangers bid them 
welcome." 

We are pretty absurd in Westminster, for you will see 
that Lord Cochrane is again to be a Senator, notwithstand- 
ing conviction, expulsion, and pillory. 1 At least so the 
electors resolved on the day of nomination, and nobody 
appeared to oppose him, while Sir Francis Burdett pro- 
claimed his wrongs and his virtues to a mob. . . . This 
worthy synod unanimously acquitted the noble Lord of 
all sins, past, present, and to come. 

Your Scotch aristocrats managed his forefather 2 better 
at the Brig of Lauder, who, I believe, did not deserve a tow 
half as well. Burdett spoke better and showed more talent 
for mischief than I gave him credit for ; he is very well 
adapted to his work. I fear we shall have sad squabbling 
amongst ourselves now that we have no longer any foreign 
enemy; and in truth if the Regent was determined to 
draw down unpopularity and odium on his own head, he 
could hardly act better for the purpose than he does. The 
execrable folly of his expense, and the taste that disgraces 
it still more, is really more like madness than mere royal 
absurdity; besides all the silly squabbling about the 
Princess, and now the rebellion of his daughter, for which, 
however disastrous to us, nobody can pity him who recollects 
how he behaved himself to a much better father. Adieu, 
dear Scott ; I envy your retreat at Abbotsford. Give our 
very kindest regards to Mrs. Scott and our young friends, 
and ever believe me, dear Scott, yours sincerely and affec- 
tionately, J. B. S. Morritt. 

1 Lord Cochrane was saved from the sentence he should stand beside 

this last ignominy by the firmness of him in the pillory, 
his colleague Sir Francis Burdett, 

who threatened the Government 2 The favourite of James in. See 

that if they carried out that part of Tales of a Grandfather. 



328 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [July 



FROM THE SAME. 

London, July 2\at, [1814]. 

. . . We have finished Waverley, and right sorry we 
are that we cannot forget it all and begin de novo. I 
wish however with all my heart I could persuade you to 
own it at once. If you could be supposed at first, from 
diffidence of success in a style of composition hitherto 
untried, to be unwilling to stake the fame you had acquired 
in a different branch of literature, on the event of a novel, 
your original concealment is accounted for ; but really it 
is now worse than useless, for the volumes we have just 
read would add to the fame of the best poet in our language, 
by the extent and diversity of narrative and imagination 
they display ; and your name would procure them readers 
who without it are justly averse to opening a blue-backed 
book, after the thousand and one annual abortions of the 
circulating library have terrified them at unknown authors. 
Besides this, amongst the reading world you are I find 
named as the author, not merely at Edinburgh, for I have 
heard here about Mr. Scott's novel, boldly pronounced, and 
the unknown author begins to be accused of a trick which 
I really think will be rather prejudicial than advantageous 
to your fame. Pray reconsider this, and reflect whether it 
is not worth while to descend from your ambush into the 
open field, where you will find more friends than enemies, 
and where your name and cognizance are already a host in 
themselves. . . . The story is very interesting, and very well 
varied from the humorous to the pathetic. The stile I 
think is equally happy, and never so redundant as to let 
the attention sleep. 1 . . . 

You have quite attained the point which in your post- 

1 Scott, in reply, says on the by doing so he would deprive 
24th, that "he will not oivn Waver- himself of the pleasure of writing 
ley ; " his chief reason being that again. 



1814] FROM MOERITT 329 

script preface you propose as your object, — the discrimina- 
tions of character which had hitherto been slurred over 
with clumsy national daubing. Waverley's character is 
very natural throughout : but I always feel a little spite 
against him for the ease with which he replaces Flora 
by a new mistress. She is too lovely to be so soon 
forgotten, even tho' she were inexorable, but you will 
say this is part of his unsettled character ; and so it is, 
but I cannot help wishing the change had been in the 
contrary direction. . . . 

Adieu, dear Scott, and with united love from us to all 
our friends at Abbotsford, believe me ever truly and affec- 
tionately yours, J. B. S. Morritt. 



FROM THE SAME. 

Rokeby, 22d August 1814. 

My dear Scott, — As I suppose you are ere now almost 
at the end of your tour, 1 perhaps this will be in time to 
welcome you back to Abbotsford. I fear you have tra- 
velled under the wrathful influence of Jupiter Pluvius ; at 
least we have had a great deal of rain and cold weather 
for the last fortnight, which may have destroyed some of 
the charms of the Hebrides. . . . 

Your reasons for not owning Waverley are indeed 
cogent, and have had the success which seldom attends 
reason in this world, for they have convinced me that you 
are right, and that I was wrong. The more I read of the 
book, the more I liked it, and I rejoice to hear it has had 
so rapid a sale. We read it fairly twice through, besides 
occasional dips, so that you may be very sure it amused 
us, and I certainly liked it better on the second reading 
than even on the first. I am rejoiced that this young 
Falconbridge is not to be the last of his family. ... I 

1 See Life, vol. iv. p. 176. 



330 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Oct. 

envy you the pleasure your tour must have given you, for 
I know your taste for such a trip as you proposed ; pray 
impart the result of your meditations amongst the cliffs 
and sea-gulls, or embody them into some wild story that 
may amuse us all next winter. . . . 

Yours truly and affectionately, J. B. S. Morritt. 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

Edinburgh, October 28th, [1814]. 
My dear Mrs. Baillie, — If twenty years at the bar 
and within the bar had left me any blushes, they would 
absolutely burn the paper when I sit down to write to 
you ; but you are aware I have been very busy, and that 
besides I have been a wanderer on the face — not of the 
earth, but of the ocean, for a good part of my usual play 
time. I assure you I can tell you something of deserts 
vast and antres dire, though I was not so fortunate as to 
meet any of the honest folks whose heads grow beneath 
their shoulders. Tales of mermaids, however, we had 
many ; and saw the man who saw a sea-snake big enough 
to girdle the earth for what I know. But what I was par- 
ticularly delighted with was to find that the sea agreed 
with me so very well that I may venture a little voyage 
whenever I have a mind. We were six weeks upon our 
tour, and visited almost every remarkable place in Orkney, 
Shetland, and the Hebrides. What was not quite so pro- 
mising a sight, we saw an American, that same Peacock x 
with a fiery tail, which annoy'd the trade so much in the 
channel between Britain and Ireland. We were prepared 
to run as well as we could, and fight when we could 
not help ourselves, when a breeze and a ridge of rocks 

1 Scott narrowly escaped being a description of this delightful 

carried off a prisoner of war by cruise see his Diary, forming the 

the heavily -armed privateers Pea- greater portion of the fourth volume 

cock and Prince of Neufchatel. For of the Life. 



1814] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 331 

to our leeward stood our friend, and we got off for the 
fright. 

So you have retired from your former prefix of Miss 
Joanna Baillie, and have adopted the more grave appella- 
tion of Mrs. Well, you may call yourself what you please 
on the backs of letters and visiting cards, but I will warrant 
you never get posterity to tack either Miss or Mrs. to the 
Quaker-like Joanna Baillie ; we would as soon have Wm. 
Shakespeare, Esq. 

Kichardson was with us one day or two in summer with 
his wife, who seems very pleasing, but was then in delicate 
health. ... I shewed Richardson the Pinasters ; they had 
suffered much by the extreme drought of the season, but 
came about a good deal in November. I intend, in humble 
imitation of the hermit Fincal in the Tales of the Genii, to 
dedicate a seat to you in my bowers that are to be. 1 . . . 
In the meantime we look bare enough; but I will take 
care they shall make the most of their time and grow very 
fast, if you will promise to come down with your sister 
and see them next season. I trust however we shall meet 
before that, for I intend to be in London this spring, and 
hope to bring my wife and eldest girl with me. Sophia is 
a very good girl, and, like her namesake in " Tom Jones," 
plays and sings papa to sleep after dinner; only I have 
the "Bonny Earl of Murray," " Hughie Graeme," "Gil 
Morrice," and so forth, instead of " Bobbin Joan " and " St. 
George for England," which soothed the slumbers of honest 
Squire Western. She only croons after all. ... I am very 
anxious to know what progress tragedy has been making, 
and when I am to have a peep. I assure you I shall be 
most faithful, and secret as the grave ; besides, I want to 
hear of the Dr. and Mrs. Baillie, and of your sister, and 

1 See story of M irglip the Persian. example. — Also letter in Life, 
Scott soon afterwards tells his friend Nov. 1815, describing "Joanna's 
how he proposes to follow FincaPs Bower." 



332 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 

what you have been all doing, and what preparing to do ; 
how you liked Wales, and whether it put you in mind of 
poor old Scotland. There are few countries I long so 
much to see as Wales. The first time I set out to see it I 
was caught by the way and married, God help me ! The 
next time, I went to London and spent all my money 
there. What will be my third interruption I do not know, 
but the circumstances seem ominous. And now I see from 
the face of the learned gentleman who is pleading at the 
bar that he will presently finish a very long, very elaborate, 
and very dry pleading upon an abstract point of law, so I 
shall pack up nrjrpapers in my green bag and give them 
to my Brownie ; that is an attendant who does the whole 
duty of my office if I chuse it, and is paid by the public ; 
and then I will go to a sale of prints and try to buy a fine 
one of Charles Edward, done in France, and suppressed. I 
dare say you, like a good Westland Whig, wish it may be 
a-going, a-going, gone before I can get to the sale. 

Mrs. Scott joins in kind remembrances to you and Mrs. 
A. Baillie. — Ever, my dear friend, most respectfully yours, 

Walter Scott. 



TO SOUTHEY. 

Edinburgh, 22d December 1814. 

I had a most valuable proof of your friendly remem- 
brance, some months ago, in the poem of Don Roderick. I 
know no instance in which your genius has been more suc- 
cessfully and honourably employ'd, and the high tone of 
poetry mingled with the most generous feelings of patriot- 
ism and private virtue would hand you down to posterity 
one of the highest of British poets, had you never written 
another line. I will not be tempted to say more upon this 
subject, except just to mention the interest with which I 
again perused those passages which I heard you read at 



1814] TO SOUTHEY 333 

Keswick, and how much I was pleased to find that my 
memory, not quite so retentive as in early youth, had upon 
this occasion served me faithfully. I have also to thank 
you for your official Lyrics, which will make up a trio of 
real poets who have worn the laurel, Spenser, Dryden, and 
you. Your task will in future be more difficult, for in 
these piping days of peace what can you find to say, and 
our transatlantic campaigns have been so managed as to 
afford few subjects of poetry as laurels for our generals. 
It is a very humbling consideration that after having faced 
the lion, we should still be exposed to be gnawed by the 
rat, but it is the natural consequence of despising an enemy, 
— a consequence of national pride which has ever been 
its own severe punishment. 

My own vacation was partly spent in a very pleasant 
voyage round the coast and islands of Scotland, of which 
we made a very complete survey, comprehending Zetland, 
Orkney, the Hebrides, and the remarkably wild and moun- 
tainous deserts of Sutherland and Koss. One cave I saw 
in particular, which I think greatly exceeds anything of 
the kind I ever heard of. There is an exterior cavern of 
great height and breadth and depth, like the vault of a 
cathedral. Within this huge cave, and opening by a sort 
of portal, closed half way up with a ledge of rock, we got 
access to a second cavern, an irregular circle in form, and 
completely filled with water. This was supplied by a con- 
siderable brook which fell from the height of at least 
eighty feet, through a small aperture in the rocky roof 
of the cave. The effect of the twilight, composed of such 
beams as could find their way through the cascade as 
it fell, was indescribably grand. We hoisted a boat into 
this subterranean lake, and pursued the adventure by 
water and land for a great way under ground. 1 Another 

1 See Life, vol. iv. pp. 280-290, for the full description of Uamh 
Smowe, Sutherland shire. 



334 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 1814 

cave which we visited in the isle of Eigg was strewed with 
human bones and skulls. The whole inhabitants of the isle 
having taken refuge in it to escape from the fury of the 
Macleods, whom they had offended, their lurking-place 
was discovered, and fire was maintained at the mouth of 
the cavern until every man and mother's son were suffo- 
cated. What a fine subject for Coleridge ! This pleasant 
adventure only chanced about 150 years ago, as far as we 
could discover. 

I think you will now be mourning for the affairs of 
Spain. Surely the same Ferdinand the Beloved is like the 
man, who when a friend had snatched down a fowling- 
piece, and successfully defended his home against robbers, 
afterwards very gratefully went to law with him for spoil- 
ing the lock of the gun. In two or three days, or rather 
next week, I will send you a thumping quarto being 
entitled and called The Lord of the Isles. 

I was much disappointed at my absence from Abbots- 
ford when Wordsworth called. I should have been 
particularly happy to have shaken him by the hand. . . . 
Yours very truly, Walter Scott. 



CHAPTEE XI 

1815 
EDINBUEGH AND ABBOTSFOKD 



" Go forth, my Song, upon thy venturous way ; 
Go boldly forth ; nor yet thy master blame, 
Who chose no patron for his humble lay, 
And graced thy numbers with no friendly name, 
Whose partial zeal might smooth thy path to fame. 
There was — and ! how many sorrows crowd 
Into these two brief words ! — there was a claim 
By generous friendship given — had fate allow'd, 
It well had bid thee rank the proudest of the proud ! 

"All angel now — yet little less than all, 
While still a pilgrim in our world below ! 
What 'vails it us that patience to recall, 
Which hid its own to soothe all other woe ; 
What 'vails to tell, how Virtue's purest glow 
Shone yet more lovely in a form so fair ! 
And, least of all, what 'vails the world should know, 
That one poor garland, twined to deck thy hair, 
Is hung upon thy hearse, to droop and wither there ! " 
Lines on the Duchess of Buccleuch 

concluding The Lord of the Isles. 



FAMILY ANNALS AND LITERARY WORK 



1815— age 44 



Scott visits London with wife and daughter 

for two months in March. 
Scott visits Waterloo and Paris in August 

and September, and returns home by 

London, Kenilworth, and Rokeby. 
Death of Mrs. Morritt in November. 
Lord of the Isles, 4to, published by 

Constable in January. 
Guy Mannering, 3 vols., published by 

Constable in February. 
Memorie of the Somervilles, 2 vols. Svo, 

published by Constable. 



Essays on Chivalry and the Drama — (in 
Encyclopaedia Britannica). 

Field of Waterloo, Svo, published by 
Constable in October. 

Rowland's Poems, sq. Svo, published by 
Laing and Blackwood. 

The Ettrick Garland, roy. 8vo, Ballantyne, 
December 4. 

Contribution to Quarterly Review- 
Miss Austen's Emma, No. 27, October. 



CHAPTER XL 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Edinr., January 10th, 1815. 

My dearest Friend, — I hope you have long since 
received the Lord of the Isles ; one of the first volumes out 
of the press was sent to you under an office cover. I could 
not superintend the sending away these copies as usual, 
because we were rather a complaining family, as the Scotch 
say. My eldest boy has contrived to have a decided 
smallpox, in defiance not only of vaccination, but of inocu- 
lation thereafter. You may be assured we were alarmed 
enough, for the appearance of the smallpox in this genera- 
tion is like one of the giants in Ariosto who comes alive 
after he is killed. Nothing could be more easy than the 
manner in which he had the disorder, and he is now quite 
well. I propose to exhibit him along with the Indian 
Jugglers who are just arrived, as the youngster that has 
had the smallpox naturally after both vaccination and 
inoculation. I trust this matter will be closely looked 
into by medical men, for it will be a very serious business 
fifty years hence should the smallpox break out suddenly, 
as probably the lower class may neglect the vaccinating 
operation, or go through it superficially. 

The world do me too much honour in giving me 
[blank in original]. What I know, or rather guess, about 
that work, I will tell your Ladyship when we meet, which 
will be soon, as I expect to be in London in the month 
of March. 1 I think I shall bring Mrs. Scott and your 

1 Reading Scott's letters to Lady he wishes her to know that he 
Abercorn carefully, one sees that was the author of the novels, but 

VOL. I. Y 



338 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Jan. 

Ladyship's acquaintance Sophia with me, and be about 
a month in London. If it were not for the equinox gales, 
which may make it uncomfortable for my companions, 
I would come up by sea, for if there is a route I am tired 
of, it is that vile North road, which has less to interest 
one than the same extent in any direction in Great 
Britain. 

My plan for last spring was to have gone to the Con- 
tinent, when I should have seen the great entree into 
Paris. I was pretty sure of the light of Lord Aberdeen's 
countenance if I could have joined the great army, and 
might have hoped for Lord Castlereagh's also. At any 
rate if a horse or a mule could be got, I should have gone 
on very well, for few people submit with more indifference 
to want of accommodation of all kinds. I was disappointed 
in this by very exaggerated reports of the difficulty of pass- 
ing through Flanders, and especially getting past Antwerp 
and Bergen-op-zoom I was so angry at not seeing the 
grand crash that I had little curiosity about the subsequent 
part of the entertainment that was performed here. 

As for my Irish journey, it was a mere excursion of 
twenty-four hours, for we were not longer upon the coast 
than was necessary to visit the Causeway, excepting a few 
minutes at Port Rush, where I saw your Ladyship's friend 
Dr. Richardson. I was only one of a large party, so that 
I could hardly have escaped from my friends even to the 
hospitality of Barons Court, though nothing would have 
delighted me more than to have surprised you on Irish 
ground. ... As for the Lord of the Isles, I think it is my 
last poetical adventure, at least upon a large scale. I 
swear not, because I do not make any positive resolution, 

as his letters were shown to her confirmation of the authorship of 

family and friends, he expressed Guy Mannering than Scott's own 

them so as to avoid discovery. letter to her on the Dormont case. 

Even without these evasive replies See ante, pp. 292-95. 
Lady Abercorn needed too further 



1815] TO LADY ABEECOEN 339 

but I think I have written enough, and it is unlikely I 
shall change my opinion. 

I beg to be most respectfully remembered to the 
Marquis. Sophia is much honoured in your remembrance; 
she is now growing a great girl, and is very sensible and 
good-humoured, and is a great comfort to Charlotte and 
me. Indeed, if one dare judge from what appears in early 
life, my young people are all well disposed. 

Next to seeing the great men themselves, nothing can 
equal beholding them on the canvas of Lawrence, who is 
one of the first geniuses of his art, and merits his extended 
fame. That is a pleasure I propose to receive soon. — Be- 
lieve me ever, dear Lady Abercorn, your truly grateful and 
affectionate friend, Walter Scott. 



TO MORRITT. 

Edinr., 21st January 1815. 

Dear Morritt, . . . Best and kindest compliments. 
The weather here seems setting in for a feeding storm, 
as we call it when the snow lies so long that the sheep 
must be fed with hay. I have just seen Caberfae's 1 
hearse pass. I trust they will send it by sea, for on land 
the journey must be fearful at this season. There is 
something very melancholy in seeing the body pass, poorly 
attended, and in the midst of a snow-storm whitening 
all the sable ornaments of the undertaker, and all corre- 
sponding with the decadence and misfortunes of the 
family. 

Adieu. I hope soon to see you in Portland Place, and 
to find Mrs. Morritt quite strong and revived by her abode 
on the seaside. — Ever yours most truly, 

Walter Scott. 

1 Francis Lord Seaforth, last baron of Kintail. 



340 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [Jan. 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

Edinburgh, January 31, 1815. 

My dear Friend, — I have been rather unwell with 
a cold, and the severity of the weather prevented Siddons 
from coming to see me, but I wrote to him immediately 
on receiving your letter, and received the following answer, 
which prepares you for a letter from the manager himself. 
I had also to negotiate a proposal with him about Kean 
coming down here, to which the beginning of the letter 
alludes. I have not the least doubt that Siddons will 
be most anxious to bring forward the Beacon?- though I 
am afraid he is not at present very well supported by 
a company. I shall not, however, say much of this 
matter, having been at the theatre only once this season : 
but I have no doubt that the merits of the piece 
will triumphantly carry it through any defects of the 
performers. I am glad the Lord of the Isles found his 
way to Hampstead, and was fortunate enough to give you 
amusement. I have often wish'd you would take the 
Bruce for hero of a drama: he is an uncommon fine 
fellow, and we have a much better and clearer account 
of him than of most historical heroes. 

You will readily, I think, acquit me of the most distant 
wish to add another to the order of fiddling, rhyming, and 
painting knights, an order of chivalry for which I never 
have had particular respect. I am of Mrs. Page's opinion : 
" These knights will hack." I will not change the article 
of my gentry. I take it, the world would say, with Falstaff, 
" I like not such grinning honour as Sir Walter hath." As 
for Walter, poor fellow, I hope he will marry for love and 
work for money. I should certainly be pleased that my 
daughter-in-law had some little property or fortune to help 
the menage, but I think it is by far the least important 
consideration. Frugality and domestic affection make 

1 A serious musical drama on Hope. — See Plays on the Passions, vol. iii. 



1815] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 341 

a much better fortune than that of a second Miss Tilney 
Long, supposing the possessor deficient in these qualities. 
It makes the husband's industry the labour of love, and 
the happiest marriages I have seen have been those which 
began under circumstances which required economy. 1 

We still keep our purpose of being in town to burnish 
the chain of friendship, as the Indians say, and particu- 
larly the valuable tie which connects us with Hampstead. 
Sophia will be delighted to be your honoured guest for 
a few days, and I will be charmed with the opportunity 
of making her acquainted with you. Charlotte joins in 
kind remembrances to Mrs. A. Baillie and Mrs. Dr. Baillie. 
And I am, very truly and affectionately yours, 

Walter Scott^ 

to lady abercorn. 

Edinr., 15th February 1815. 

My dear Friend, — . . . I shall be very curious to see 
Moore's poem. 2 His songs are most of them exquisitely 
beautiful, and he seems almost to think in music, the notes 
and words are so happily suited to each other. He is 
certainly a man of very considerable poetical talent, but 
I think has not been very fortunate in being so much in 
fashionable life, where a man who frequents it without 
fortune or rank is very apt to lose his time without adding 
to his reputation. I am very glad his poem is likely to fix 
his independence. As for the Lord of the Isles, it has done 
very well indeed; the people are tearing the printer to 
pieces for the next edition. Your copy was sent the day 
after the Prince's, to whom I thought it necessary to send 
one. I think it went under Mr. Freeling or Mr. Croker's 
frank. One went to Lady Stafford at the same time and 

1 Scott's reasons for changing his 2 Lalla Rookh had just been 

mind on the baronetcy are given purchased for 3000 guineas, though 

in his letter to Joanna Baillie, it was not published until 1817. 
December 1818, Life, vol. vi. p. 13. 



342 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Feb. 

arrived safe. I trust you have yours long since. We have 
almost settled our expedition to London in the course of 
next month. I shall be much delighted to see some of the 
friends there to whom I have been such a stranger for six 
years. My first thoughts will of course turn to St. James' 
Square. 

I spoke to Mr. Thomson about the picture. He did 
not like it, it seems, and is doing another. I wish he may 
be as successful as in one he presented me with, which is 
really, and without any allowance being required, a very 
fine thing indeed. It is a view of Crichton Castle, near 
Edinburgh, once a favourite haunt of mine, but not 
slavishly correct as to the surrounding landscape. 

We have Salt, the Abyssinian traveller, here just now, 
a remarkably pleasant conversible man if I can judge from 
one interview. He corroborated my old acquaintance 
Bruce in all his material facts, although he thinks that 
he considerably exaggerated his personal consequence and 
exploits, and interpolated much of what regards his voyage 
in the Red Sea. He is to dine with me on Thursday. 
Does your Ladyship think it would be an acceptable com 
pliment to present the beef without roasting, according to 
the fashion of the court of Gondar ? 

The Duke of Buccleuch is as well as a man can be 
under the dreadful dispensation which it has been his lot 
to endure. I have been much with him and have great 
occasion to admire both his firmness of mind and depth of 
feeling. He is fortunate in Lady Anne Scott, his eldest 
daughter, who is really worthy of the excellent mother she 
has lost, and whom I have often heard call her " her com- 
fortable daughter." She is now a real comfort to her father, 
and discharges the duties incumbent upon her as head of 
his family with the utmost propriety. But Dalkeith, and 
still more, Bowhill, will be long places of sad and solemn re- 
collection to all who remember the late excellent Duchess. 



1815] TO LADY ABERCOEN 343 

I have a better apology for writing an unintelligible 
letter than the bad pen which your Ladyship pleaded, and 
which I should never have discovered unless you had told 
me of it, for I have the whole bustle of a law court going 
on about my ears at this moment with " Mr. Scott, will you 
let me look at that process ? " and " Mr. Scott, will you be 
so good as to touch Mr. Hume to speak to the Lord 
President ? " etc. etc. etc. So I believe I had better stop 
in good time before I write absolute nonsense. Wherever 
I am for the time, I cannot cease to be your Ladyship's 
truly attached and most faithful and obliged friend, 

Walter Scott. 

I have got a most beautiful drawing of Pitt, from 
Hoppner's fine painting. It is in India ink and really looks 
as if it could speak. I am delighted that Lawrence likes 
the Lord of the Isles. I would rather please one man of 
feeling and genius than all the great critics in the 
kingdom. 

TO THE SAME. 

Corner of Whitehorse Street, Piccadilly, Tuesday, 
[London, April 1815]. 1 

My dear Lady Abercorn, — I have been here these 
three or four days, always hoping, trusting, and expecting 
that your Ladyship would be in town. But your house in 
St. James' Square is otherwise occupied, and I cannot learn 
whether or when you are likely to be in town, though your 
Ladyship will believe I am most anxious to pay my respects. 

Mrs. Scott and Sophia are with me, and we came up 

1 Guy Mannering was published quite delighted. I feel quite 

in February, and as soon as the charmed with the Dominie, Meg 

Courts rose Scott went to London, Merrilies and Dirk Hatteraick, 

but before starting he had learned characters as true to nature and as 

from Morritt what he thought of original and forcibly conceived as 

the book. I had almost said could be drawn 

, . . " We have read as far as the by Shakespeare himself." . . . 
end of the second volume and are 



344 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [July 

by sea very successfully and even pleasantly, bating three 
circumstances — 

1st. That the wind was in constant and methodical 
opposition. 

2nd. That a collier brig ran foul of us in the dark, 
and nearly consigned us all to the bottom of the sea. 

3rd. and last, we struck on a rock, and lay hammering 
for two hours until we floated with the rising tide. 

I am tied down to this town just now as Vhomme de 
confiance of a fair Scotchwoman who is about to be married 
into your high circle, and so we are up to the ears in 
settlements, etc., but for which circumstance I would have 
offered my personal respects at the Priory. I beg to be 
respectfully remembered to the Marquis, and am ever, with 
the greatest respect and regard, your Ladyship's truly 
faithful and obliged, Walter Scott. 

FROM THOMAS SCOTT. 

[Postmark, July 15th, 1815.] 

My dear Brother Walter, — I yesterday received 
your letter of the 9th December last, for such is the 
slowness of conveyance here that many months some- 
times elapse between the dates of writing and receiving 
letters, and sometimes they do not come to hand at all, as 
was the case with your letter of the 30th September last. 
The first account I received of it and Waverley is 
contained in your last letter. This vexes me much, as 
both letter and book must have fallen into bad hands, or 
they would have been forwarded by this time. . . . 

I am here at present for a few days on leave, as my 
time was short, the roads scarcely passable. I ran the 
risk of finding the ice open, and proceeded in a canoe 
with my father and two of my red brethren down the St. 
Lawrence. We had a prosperous voyage, and paddled 
ninety miles from sunrise to sunset — shooting all the 



1815] FKOM THOMAS SCOTT 345 

rapids in a style that would surprise any person un- 
acquainted with the dexterity of the Indians. This favour 
I acquired from my situation amongst my tribe, being a 
Mohawk chief and warrior by adoption, under the name of 
Assarapa. In truth, my intercourse with the Indians was 
the only thing from which I received any pleasure at Corn- 
wall. Their settlement at St. Ridac and on the islands was 
nearly opposite to Cornwall, and I preferred the manners of 
the native Indians to the insipid conversation of our own 
officers. . . . 

FROM THE SAME. 

JSTo Date. 

. . . Yesterday morning Captain Norton, the chief 
of the Five Nations, left. I had the pleasure to be his 
intimate acquaintance, and he is a man who makes you 
almost wish to be an Indian chief. What do you think of a 
man speaking the language of about twelve Indian nations, 
English, French, German, and Spanish, all well, being 
in possession of all modern literature — having read with 
delight your Lady of the Lake, and translated the same, 
together with the Scriptures, into Mohawk — having written 
a history of the five nations, and a journal of his own 
travels, 1 now in London ready for publication, and being at 
the same time an Indian chief, living as they do and 
following all their fashions. For, brother, you ask doth he 
paint himself, scalp, etc. etc. ? I answer yea, he doth ; and 
with the most polished manner of civilised life, he would 
not disdain to partake of the blood of his enemy at the 
banquet of sacrifice. Yet I admire and love the man, and 
would cheerfully give fifty guineas that you could see him 
for one half-hour. He is afraid that the Edinburgh 
Review will be hard on his book. I promised to write to 

1 The "Travels" here referred of St. John into Mohawk see 

to do not appear to have been pub- Quarterly Review, vol. xxxvi. pp. 

lished, but for an account of 9-11. 
Norton's translation of the Gospel 



346 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [July 

you to have it reviewed in the Quarterly. It surely is a 
strange circumstance that an Indian Chief should produce 
a literary child. . . . 

TO JOHN RICHARDSON. 

Abbotsford, 15th July 1815. 

I am going to give your unwearied good-nature a bit 
of trouble. I have determined to take a trip to Paris, 
via Brussels, to see this grand finale. My companions 
are young Alexr. Pringle of Whytbank, and Robert Bruce, 
Advocate. I understand we shall want passports, and am 
uncertain whether they can be had without coming to 
London, which would be a horrid bore ; will you solve me 
this doubt and get the passports if they can be had ? If 
descriptions are necessary, Robert Bruce is tall, say, 5 
feet 11, brown hair, light eyes, long face, stout-made; 
Pringle about 5 feet 6, light hair and eyes, round face and 
slightly made. My own I need not add. Brussels is our 
first object, next Paris. I write in haste, having just 
taken this sudden frisk into my head, resolved to see this 
second Brentford. 1 

1 Scott and his two friends, ac- ling in 1893, a few notes may be 

companied by John Scott of Gala, given from Mr. Bruce's MS. 

left Edinburgh on Friday, July 28 th. Itinerary : — 
As a contrast to the mode of travel- 
July 28, Left Edinburgh at 5 a.m. 
,, 29, ,, Newcastle for York. 

„ 30, „ York „ Hull. 

„ 31, „ Hull „ Lincoln. I Stage 

Aug. 1, ,, Lincoln ,, Peterborough. /Coaches. 

,, 2, ,, Peterborough ,, Cambridge. 

„ 3, „ Cambridge ,, Harwich. 

,, 4, ,, Harwich ,, Helvoetsluys. 
(The ordinary packet had left, but a boat was hired for the party at 
20 guineas. ) 

The travellers visited Waterloo, Abbotsford before the end of Sep- 

and proceeded to Paris, arriving tember. The poem on Waterloo 

there on the 15th, where they re- was published in October, and 

mained for several weeks. Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk in 

Scott and Gala returned by way the following January. — See Life, 

of Dieppe, London, Warwick, Kenil- vol. v. pp. 54-94. 
worth, and Rokeby, arriving at 



1815] 



FROM LADY LOUISA STUART 



347 



FROM LADY LOUISA STUART. 

Bothwell Castle, October 29th, 1815. 
I could not write, my dear Mr. Scott, till I was 
thoroughly acquainted with the poem, and could at once 
thank you for your kindness in sending it me, and say 
what passages had struck me as peculiarly beautiful. 
First, the scene of repose at the beginning, and all down 
to the awful conclusion of No. 7. Then the magnificent 
metaphor in No. 13 1 is one of those happy expressions that 
with a single word fill the whole mind beyond what entire 
pages could do. The following address to Buonaparte 
appears to me admirable from one end to the other. 
Nos. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 not the less so for steering clear 
of invective and abuse. But the winter torrent crowns 
everything. Is not that thought quite new ? 2 I have 
been trying to recollect whether I ever saw the image 
thus applied anywhere else, and I cannot be sure. If 
not, you are a lucky man, for I must say it approaches 
sublimity. To conclude, I could scarcely stand No. 20, 
when Lady Douglas read it aloud to us, nor did I find it 
less affecting when I read it afterwards to myself. These 
are my honest opinions, just as I should give them to any 
third person : and let me fairly add that I by no means 
expected to be so much pleased. Whatever subject draws 
universal attention, sets "every goose a-cackling," every 
newspaper declaiming, descanting, admiring, lamenting, 
exaggerating, is harder for a poet to handle than Swift's 



1 [Then Wellington ! thy piercing eye 
This crisis caught of destiny — 

The British host had stood 
That morn 'gainst charge of sword and 

lance 
As their own ocean-rocks hold stance, 
But when thy voice had said " Advance ! " 

They were their ocean's flood. ] 

2 [" And art thou he of Lodi's bridge, 
Marengo's field, and Wagram's ridge ! 



Or is thy soul like mountain-tide, 
That, swell'd by winter storm and 

shower, 
Bolls down in turbulence of power, 

A torrent fierce and wide ; 
Beft of these aids, a rill obscure, 
Shrinking unnoticed, mean and poor, 

Whose channel shows display'd 
The wrecks of its impetuous course, 
But not one symptom of the force 
By which these wrecks were made ! "] 



348 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Oct. 

broom-stick itself ; and I protest I thought Waterloo such 
a hopeless one, that I was almost vexed at your undertak- 
ing it. But you have wonderfully avoided commonplace, 
and accordingly you will perhaps be criticised for not 
dwelling upon this and that, which people know they saw 
particularly mentioned in the gazette. 

I shall not make my letter long, as you have some- 
thing better to do than to read compliments, and it is food 
with which you may well be surfeited. Only a word to 
explain the little scrap of paper enclosed. You must know 
that I was in former days a kind of favourite with a certain 
lady, now of Wurtemberg ; and last year, being urged to 
write to her by a person who pretended to be sure that she 
would like to hear from any of the companions of her 
youth, after living so long debarred from all intercourse 
with England, I took it into my head to send her the 
song upon Mr. Pitt's anniversary, beginning — 

" dread was the hour and more dreadful the omen 
When the brave on Marengo lay slaughtered in vain." 

Not because she loved poetry when I knew her ; she had 
far the best quiet sense of them all, but the Gods had 
made none poetical. However, she dearly loved her poor 
father, whom she resembled in many points of character, 
and she was his comfort and darling ; therefore I thought 
that one stanza of the song, very gratifying even to my 
feelings, would shed balm upon her heart. And you 
will see by what I have transcribed of her answer, that 
I did not think wrong, or take too great a liberty. 

I hope my nephew, the ambassador to Paris, had an 
opportunity of making acquaintance with you while you 
were there. As soon as I knew you were going abroad, I 
charged him to try for it, and in his answer he said how 
glad the Duke of Wellington would be to see you. I wish 
there were any chance of your coming hither, that we 
might talk over many matters comfortably. Did not you 



1815] FROM LADY LOUISA STUART 349 

say something of Christmas possibly ? I long for " Paul " 
to his kinsfolk, with which you have something to do, 
I understand; and yet more for the "Antiquary," what- 
ever fountain that and its brother streams may flow from. 
Bad news, alas ! of poor Mrs. Morritt ; to my extreme dis- 
appointment, for I hoped she was getting the better of 
her wearying complaints ; yet by Mr. Morritt's letter last 
week she had begun to mend again, and was better than 
when you called at Rokeby. 

Will you remember me very kindly to Mrs. Scott, and 
to my young friend Sophia, and ever believe me, your 
much obliged and sincere, L. Stuart. 

[Indorsed by Scott, " This applause is worth having. "] 

TO LADY LOUISA STUART. 

28th Nov. 1815. 

Dear Lady Louisa, — I need hardly say that your 
applause is always gratifying to me, but more particularly 
so when it encourages me to hope I have got tolerably 
well out of a hazardous scrape. The Duke of Wellington 
himself told me there was nothing so dreadful as a battle 
won excepting only a battle lost And lost or won, I can 
answer for it, they are almost as severe upon the bard 
who celebrates as the warrior who fights them. But I 
had committed myself in the present case, and like many 
a hot-headed man, had got into the midst of the fray 
without considering well how I was to clear myself out of 
it. The approbation of your royal correspondent 1 is very 
flattering, because it flows from those feelings which 
one naturally wishes to touch and to awaken. Paul, 2 
for whom I was but partially responsible, is to fall 

1 "I had sent his song for the wrote him word how much she was 

meeting of the Pitt Club (contain- pleased with it. " — Lady Stuart's 

ing that stanza, ' Nor forget his note to transcript, 

grey head,' etc.), to the Queen 2 Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk, 

Dowager of Wiirtemberg, and published Jamiary 1816. 



350 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

upon my entire shoulders. But it would have required 
Briareus, or Briars as my little boy just now called him 
(I suppose thinking of his claws rather than his hands), 
to get handsomely through all I have been doing since I 
came home. In the first place, there was the Battle, with 
several smaller pieces which I intend to print with the 
Vision of Don Roderick, of which I will send your 
Ladyship a copy when I get to town. Et puis — but that 
is a great secret, there is a second volume in the press, 
by the author of Triermain. A strange piece of work 
it is, I promise you, being called and entitled Harold the 
Dauntless, a sort of tale of errantry and magic which, 
entre nous, I am very fond of, though ashamed to avow 
my frailty. When I get to town I will send the first 
canto under the seal of secrecy. Besides, as each great 
painting has its original sketch, I have given^ the 
Edinburgh Annual Register some lines on the Battle of 
Waterloo called the Dance of Death, a hurly-burly sort^of 
performance; so I leave you to guess, my dear Lady 
Louisa, if I could form any other designs upon the public 
at present. If you ask me why I do these things, I would 
be much at a loss to give a good answer. I have been 
tempted to write for fame, and there have been periods 
when I have been compelled to write for money. Neither 
of these motives now exists — my fortune, though moderate, 
suffices my wishes, and I have heard so many blasts from 
the trumpet of Fame, both good and evil, that I am 
hardly tempted to solicit her notice anew. But the habit 
of throwing my ideas into rhyme is not easily conquered, 
and so, like Dogberry, I go on bestowing my tediousness 
upon the public. . . . 

TO MORRITT. 

Abbotsford, 2nd November 1815. 

My dearest Morritt, — The enclosed affair would have 
reached you long since but for a little bustle attending 



1815] TO MOKIIITT 351 

Mrs. Scott's going into Edinburgh, which lelt me for some 
days without a domestic. It is not so good as I wish it ; 
but after repeated trials it is as good as I can make it, 
and my friends here seem satisfied enough. I have another 
copy for you, with a new edition of Don Roderick, and 
some additional trifles. In one respect these matters 
have answered well; for since I acquired possession of 
some of my copyrights, and adhered to the plan of retain- 
ing the property in the new publications, money has 
tumbled in upon me very fast, and I am enabled to make 
a very nice little purchase adjoining to Abbotsford, which 
will cost about £3000. I know it will do your kind heart 
good to know I am increasing my territories on Tweed- 
side, and at so easy a rate. You who gave me so easy a 
shove when I was pinched with my long-dated bills, will I 
know rejoice that your friendship has not been throwing 
water into a sieve. The place is at present a sort of 
Kamtschatka, but marches along with my own, and has 
capabilities especially for planting and forming grass 
parks, which let here very high. 

I shall soon (ascending to Parnassus from Mossknow) 
send you a little 2nd vol. to Triermain called Harold the 
Dauntless, an odd sort of tale which I have taken into my 
fancy to write, for indulgence of a certain propensity to the 
marvellous which I think you share with me. I have 
written it rather roughly, but con amore, and I believe it 
will amuse you. Above all, I hope these trifles will find Mrs. 
Morritt well enough to take some interest in them, which 
would give them so high a value in the eyes of the author. 
I learn from Lady Louisa that Mrs. M. is a good deal better, 
and hope most sincerely the information is accurate. We 
think often and anxiously about you by our fireside. It 
is now comparatively lonely, as Mrs. Scott is gone in to the 
great musical festival, and Sophia attends her. Now, like 
Jeremy, I have an indifferent good ear for a jig, but your 



352 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

solos and sonatas give me the spleen, 1 so I e'en remained 
behind to prune my oaks — now dwarfs — into such shapes 
as may become them when they shall be giants. Then I 
shall have such a piece of work lining out my new planta- 
tions and enclosures, and selecting trees at the Selkirk and 
Melrose nurseries. In short I persuaded myself I was 
better here. Walter is shooting wild ducks, partridges, 
and hares most manfully ; though rather young to carry a 
gun yet, as he is very stout and manly of his age, I have 
given him a long and strong Spanish barrelled fowling- 
piece, which will not burst should he load it to the 
muzzle, and is too long for him to shoot himself unless 
absolutely by malice prepense. He generally brings in 
some game, and will not derogate from his forefathers, 
who were excellent horsemen and good sportsmen in 
their day. 

Adieu ! remember me most kindly to Mrs. Morritt, and 
pray let me know the first spare moment how you both 
do. 2 — Ever most truly yours, Walter Scott. 

TO THE SAME. 

Edinr. 28th Now. 1815. 
My dear Morritt, — It was with melancholy satisfac- 
tion — but still with satisfaction — that I received your 
letter. To know from yourself that you are well in health 

1 Congreve's Love for Love, Act close my hopes and her sufferings. 
ii. sc. 1. I cannot write more now ; my mind 

2 The following note prepared is indeed torn and harassed, though 
Scott for the intimation of Mrs. my health has been supported under 
Morritt's death, which reached him all I suffer more than I could hope, 
a few days later : — I trust I can bear what God inflicts, 

Rokeby, Nov. 6th, 1815. but indeed it is very bitter to me 

My dear Scott,— Your letter whose only object in life for years 

and your kindness are a cordial to has been her happiness and health, 

a poor sinking wretch like me, at and mine were all centred there, 

an hour when I wanted comfort. God bless you. Ever kindly and 

Mrs. Morritt is very very ill, and affectionately yours, 
a few days must, I fear, for ever J. B. S. Morritt. 



1815] TO MOREITT 353 

and resigned in your affliction to the will of heaven is all 
I could have hoped to hear. 

Our social affections are given us to animate our duties 
while we are here, and their objects are withdrawn from 
us that we may be taught to reflect that this transitory 
scene is not our resting-place. If yours, my dear friend, 
are now so severely wounded, your present suffering is in 
proportion to the domestic happiness which you have 
enjoyed for many years. And thus even the excess of 
your calamity carries with it a motive for resignation. I 
am happy to hear that you have with you a friend upon 
whose affection you can rely, and confide securely in that 
strong sense of duty which forms so marked a point in 
your character, that you will shortly find in active exertion 
some relief from the intensity of your present feelings. It 
is needless to say how deeply Mrs. Scott and my young 
people sympathise in your distress, honoured as they were 
by the kindness of the excellent person whom you lament. 
It is no small satisfaction to me as a father to see with 
what warmth my children retain remembrance of these 
circumstances. 

Lady Hood is here just now, and I left her yesterday 
shedding many tears over her own family distresses and 
yours. It occurred to us both that some time hence, and 
before you are obliged to go up to Parliament, you might 
find mental relief by spending some time in this place. I 
would find you comfortable lodgings very near me, so that 
you would have a sort of home of your own, while I hope 
you would live as much in family with me as possible, and 
we live so very quietly that you would feel yourself under 
no constraint. Your advice too and assistance would be 
of the most material consequence to Lady Hood, and I 
know that holding out a prospect of serving a friend is to 
you always the most powerful motive that can be proposed. 
I propose this as a plan not to be immediately executed, 

vol. i. z 



354 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 1815 



but to be kept in view when your inclinations prompt, and 
your business permits you to leave Rokeby. Do think of 
this, and if possible, bring Mr. Meyrick down with you ; we 
will love him for your sake, and learn to do so for his own. 
I am sensible that at first you will feel repugnance at the 
idea of seeking to divert your thoughts by exterior objects 
from the feelings which now wholly occupy them, and 
which will long hold the upper part in your mind. But 
it is our duty, as early as human frailty will permit, to 
hold ourselves open to such consolations as we may receive 
from change of place and of objects, and although we at 
first feel constrained and hurt by such a change, yet the 
exertions which it naturally requires become gradually 
their own reward. 

Mrs. Scott begs her kindest and most affectionate 
remembrances, and I am ever, my dear Morritt, but more 
especially at the present moment, yours most truly and 
kindly, Walter Scott. 



CHAPTER XII 

1816 

EDINBURGH AND ASHESTIEL 



The herring loves the merry moonlight, 

The mackerel loves the wind, 
But the oyster loves the dredging sang, 

For they come of a gentle kind. 

Now haud your tongue, baith wife and carle, 

And listen, great and sma', 
And I will sing of Glenallan's Earl 

That fought on the Red Harlaw. 



Elspeth's Ballad — Antiquary. 



FAMILY ANNALS AND LITEKAKY WORK 



1816— age 45 



Death of brother, Major John Scott, 8th 
May. 

Scott visits Perthshire and Dumbarton— a 
family party — in August. 

Morritt's visit to Abbotsford in Septem- 
ber. 

Paul's Letters to Ms Kinsfolk, published by 
Constable in January. 

The Antiquary, 3 vols., published by 
Constable in May. 



History of Europe for 1814, in Edinburgh 
Annual Register, October. 

Tales of my Landlord, 1st series ; Black 
Dwarf, and Old Mortality, 4 vols., pub- 
lished by Murray and Blackwood, De- 
cember 1. 

Contributions to Quarterly Review— 
Culloden Papers, No. 28, January. 
Byron's Childe Harold, canto iii. No. 31 , 
October— January. 



356 



CHAPTER XII. 

TO ADAM FERGUSON. 

Edin., 12th March 1816. 

My dear Adam, — I received yours yesterday, and highly 
applaud your resolution to hang the trumpet in the hall 
and study war no more. ... I have had often a delightful 
vision about you. You must know I have added to 
Abbotsford a good large farm, on which there is a mansion 
about the calibre of the Laird's ain house, or rather larger, 
commanding a most beautiful prospect of the Eildon hills 
and Melrose, or where, as the poet has it — 

" Soft sleeps the mist on cloven Eildon laid, 
And distant Melrose peeps from leafy shade." 

. . . Now your sisters and you might comfortably 
inhabit this mansion during summer, and it would be 
admirable shooting quarters, near enough to us and others 
to be quite sociable, and distant enough to be perfectly 
independent. This is a plan for future consideration, but it 
affords us a prospect of laying our auld grey pows together, 
as we used to do our young rattlepates. The house will 
only cost you paying the window-tax (about 50 shillings), 
and if you want a paddock for a cow and horse you shall 
be handsomely dealt by. I hope you will keep this in 
your recollection when you think of a summer settlement. 
The Blucher flying coach sets you down within half-an- 
hour's walk of the spot. There is an old man in the place 
whom I will not disturb for a year or so, so we will have 
enough time to think of it. At all events we will see you 
at Abbotsford this summer, and I trust you will like 
Kaeside. . . . 

357 



358 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [April 



TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

Abbotsford, 12th April 1816. 

... I have added a rnost romantic inmate to my family 
— a large bloodhound, allow'd to be the finest dog of the 
kind in Scotland, perfectly gentle, affectionate, and good- 
natured, and the darling of all the children. I had him in 
a present from Glengarry, 1 who has refused the breed to 
people of the very first rank. He is between the deer- 
greyhound and mastiff, with a shaggy mane like a lion, 
and always sits beside me at dinner, his head as high as 
the back of my chair ; yet it will gratify you to know that 
a favourite cat keeps him in the greatest possible order, 
and insists upon all rights of precedence, and scratches 
with impunity the nose of an animal who would make no 
bones of a wolf, and pulls down a red deer without fear or 
difficulty. I heard my friend set up some most piteous 
howls, and I assure you the noise was no joke, all occa- 
sioned by his fear of passing puss, who had stationed him- 
self on the stairs. 2 . . . 

1 Glengarry's note may now be mean that cross, and say so by 

given : — letter how soon you read this (I 

will get your favour by the post 

Garry Cottage, 3d March 1816. of Tuesday evening, the last that 

My dear Sir, — We returned the can overtake me here), he shall be 

length of Kinross on Friday, and in your possession on Thursday 

got home yesterday. I wished first. His name is Maida, out of 

much to have seen you again rela- respect for that action in which my 

tive to the dogs. I have a cross much brother had the honour to lead the 

admired, which generally attend 78th Highlanders to victory. This 

my carriage. They can travel with- dog is now in his prime, and has 

out inconvenience with any horse, been bled to deer and roe, and 

and make famous watch-dogs, should you wish for more of the 

Their sire was the sheep-dog called deer blood for yourself command 

the " Blue Dog of Spain " that kills me freely. — T remain, dear sir, 

the wolf and preserves their valu- always yours obliged and very 

able flocks from bears ; their dam truly, A. Macdonell. 

the genuine Highland deer-hound, 2 Nimrod, Maida's successor, was 

which race I have maintained like- not so forbearing with Hinse. — See 

wise in perfect purity. Should you Journal, vol. ii. p. 273, note. 



1816] TO SOUTHEY 359 

TO SOUTHEY. 

Abbotsford, 17th April 1816. 
... It would have been indeed a meeting to have had 
your company on the field of Waterloo ; the most decisive 
as well as the most glorious victory which was ever gained, 
and in the most just cause. I do not know whether I 
admired most the skill of the general, or the persevering 
and enduring bravery of the troops whom he led on that 
memorable day, but between them they proved the truth 
■of what we have often agreed upon as a leading principle, 
that for victory, it was only necessary to place British 
troops under a general in whom they had deserved confid- 
ence. Had this been done from the first, what seas of 
blood might have been spared ! . . . The Duke of Welling- 
ton fairly fought himself into the confidence of the public 
and the administrators of the public. The difficulties 
which he encountered in his outset would fill a volume, 
and I cannot help thinking the better of myself, that 
though totally unknown to Sir Arthur Wellesley, and only 
judging of him from the spirit of decision with which he 
conducted the Indian campaigns, I considered him long 
before the defence of Lisbon, and in spite of the Conven- 
tion of Cintra, as the only man we could send forth to 
meet Bonaparte. ... I do not know how much you have 
lost by not seeing the Duchess of Richmond, for my own 
acquaintance with her is as slight as possible, but I know 
many of her and his intimate friends. She gave me an 
interesting account of her ball, which was broken up in so 
particular a manner. 1 

I should have liked to have gone through Flanders, 
and yet hope to do so. There is something in the char- 
acter of the Walloons (not to mention their resemblance 
in figure and features to the Scotch) which greatly in- 

i Scott saw the Duchess when in Brussels in August 1815. 



360 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [April 

terested me, and one cannot forget that Froissart, the 
most picturesque of historians, and Philip de Comines, 
perhaps the most faithful, both came from Flanders, 
and that a thousand memorable actions have rendered 
the land classic; they are besides a good people, and 
have some faith and honesty left among them, much dif- 
ferent in that respect from their neighbours, the French, 
whose sense of religion and morality is down at zero. . . . 
I hope you will contrive a border excursion this next 
summer, and bring Mrs. Southey with you to this least of 
all possible houses, which however has a poet's corner for 
you and her. Think of this and oblige him who is always 
truly yours, Walter Scott. 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

[End of April 1816.] 

My dear Friend, — I am glad you are satisfied with 
my reasons for declining a direct interference with Lord 
B[yron]. I have not, however, been quite idle, and as an 
old seaman have tried to go by a side wind when I had 
not the means of going before it, and this will be so far 
plain to you when I say that I have every reason to believe 
the good intelligence is true that a separation is signed 
between Lord and Lady Byron. If I am not as angry as 
you have good reason to expect every thinking and feeling 
man to be, it is from deep sorrow and regret that a man 
possessed of such noble talents should so utterly and 
irretrievably lose himself. In short, I believe the thing to 
be as you state it, and therefore Lord Byron is the object 
of anything rather than indignation. It is a cruel pity 
that such high talents should have been joined to a mind 
so wayward and incapable of seeking control where alone 
it is to be found, in the quiet discharge of domestic duties 
and filling up in peace and affection his station in society. 
The idea of his ultimately resisting that which should be 



1816] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 361 

fair and honourable to Lady B. did not come within my 
view of his character — at least of his natural character ; 
but I hear that, as you intimated, he has had execrable 
advisers. I hardly know a more painful object of con- 
sideration than a man of genius in such a situation ; those 
of lower minds do not feel the degradation, and become 
like pigs, familiarised with the filthy elements in which 
they grovel; but it is impossible that a man of Lord 
Byron's genius should not often feel the want of that 
which he has forfeited — the fair esteem of those by whom 
genius most naturally desires to be admired and cherished. 
I am much obliged to Mrs. Baillie for excluding me in 
her general censure of authors ; but I should have hoped 
for a more general spirit of toleration from my good friend, 
who had in her own family and under her own eye such 
an exception to her general censure — unless, indeed (which 
may not be far from the truth), she supposes that female 
genius is more gentle and tractable, though as high in tone 
and spirit as that of the masculine sex. But the truth is, 
I believe, we will find a great equality when the different 
habits of the sexes and the temptations they are exposed 
to are taken into consideration. Men early flattered and 
coaxed, and told they are fitted for the higher regions of 
genius and unfit for anything else, — that they are a superior 
kind of automaton and ought to move by different im- 
pulses than others, — indulge their friends and the public 
with freaks and caprioles like those of that worthy knight 
of La Mancha in the Sierra Morena. And then, if our 
man of genius escapes this temptation, how is he to parry 
the opposition of the blockheads who join all their hard 
heads and horns together to butt him out of the ordinary 
pasture, goad him back to Parnassus, and " bid him on 
the barren mountain starve." * It is amazing how far this 
goes, if a man will let it go, in turning him out of the ordi- 

1 Varied from First Henry iv., Act i. sc. 3. 



362 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [April 

nary course of life into the stream of odd bodies, so that 
authors come to be regarded as tumblers, who are expected 
to go to church in a summerset, because they sometimes 
throw a Catherine-wheel for the amusement of the public. 
A man even told me at an election, thinking I believe he 
was saying a severe thing, that I was a poet, and therefore 
that the subject we were discussing lay out of my way. 
I answered as quietly as I could, that I did not apprehend 
my having written poetry rendered me incapable of speaking 
common sense in prose, and that I requested the audience to 
judge of me not by the nonsense I might have [written for] 
their amusement, but by the sober sense I was endeavour- 
ing to speak for their information, and only expected them, 
in case I had ever happened to give any of them pleasure, 
in a way which was supposed to require some information 
and talent, they would not, for that sole reason, suppose 
me incapable of understanding or explaining a point ot 
the profession for which I had been educated. So I got a 
patient and very favourable hearing. But certainly these 
great exertions of friends and enemies have forced many a 
poor fellow out of the common paths of life, and obliged 
him to make a trade of what can only be gracefully 
executed as an occasional avocation. When such a man 
is encouraged in all his freaks and follies, the bit is taken 
out of his mouth, and, as he is turned out upon the com- 
mon, he is very apt to deem himself exempt from all the 
rules incumbent on those who keep the king's highway. 
And so they play fantastic tricks before high heaven. 

The lady authors are not exempt from these vagaries, 
being exposed to the same temptations; and all I can 
allow Mrs. Baillie in favour of the fair sex is that since the 
time of the Aphras and Orindas of Charles n.'s time, the 
authoresses have been ridiculous only, while the authors 
have too often been both absurd and vicious. As to our 
leal friend Tom Campbell, I have heard stories of his 



1816] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 363 

morbid sensibility chiefly from the Minto family, with 
whom he lived for some time, and I think they all turned 
on little foolish points of capricious affectation, which 
perhaps had no better foundation than an ill-imagined 
mode of exhibiting his independence. But whatever I 
saw of him myself — and we were often together, and some- 
times for several days — was quite composed and manly. 
Indeed, I never worried him to make him get on his hind 
legs and spout poetry when he did not like it. He deserves 
independence well; and if the dog which now awakens 
him to the recollection of his possessing it, happened for- 
merly to disturb the short sleep that drowned his recollec- 
tion of so great a blessing, there is good reason for enduring 
the disturbance with more patience than before. 

But surely, admitting all our temptations and irregu- 
larities, there are men of genius enough living to restrain 
the mere possession of talent from the charge of disqualify- 
ing the owner for the ordinary occupation and duties of 
life. There never were better men, and especially better 
husbands, fathers, and real patriots, than Southey and 
Wordsworth; they might even be pitched upon as most 
exemplary characters. I myself, if I may rank myself in 
the list, am, as Hamlet says, indifferent honest, and at least 
not worse than an infidel in loving those of my own house. 
And I think that generally speaking, authors like actors, 
being rather less commonly believed to be eccentric than 
was the faith fifty years since, do conduct themselves as 
amenable to the ordinary rules of society. 

This tirade was begun a long time since, but is destined 
to be finished at Abbotsford. Your bower is all planted 
with its evergreens, but must for seven years retain its 
original aspect of a gravel pit. 1 . . . 

[rest lost.] 

1 Joanna Baillie replies : — kind letter, and have been some- 

"... I thank you for your last what amused at your taking up so 



364 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [May 

TO MORRITT. 

JVb Date. 
... I am very sorry for what has taken place between 
Lord Byron and his Lady, for I was in great hopes that the 
comfort of domestic society might tame the wayward irre- 
gularity of mind which is, unfortunately for its owner, 
connected with such splendid talent. I have known Lord 
Byron do very great and generous things, and I would 
have been most happy to find that he had adopted other 
and more settled habits. But I should be afraid that is 
hardly to be hoped for now, for the very circumstances of 
Mat which have attended the separation will prevent them 
ever uniting again, for such breaches made up are like a 
china dish clasped, it has an appearance of union but has 
lost its value, and must always be precarious and insecure. 

TO TERRY. 

Edinburgh, 19th May 1816. 

Dear Terry, — I would not have been so long in 
thanking you for your kind intentions towards me, and 
expressing my cheerful wish to stand Godfather to the 
little heathen, had it not been that a long illness of my 
brother Major Scott, has been recently closed by his 
death, which, with the necessary arrangements which de- 
volved on me, has occupied my time for some days past. 
You remember his health was always weak, and it was a 
matter of surprise to us all how he got through the winter. 

seriously the defence of the whole drawing back and refusing to sign 

brotherhood and sisterhood of poets it on various pretences, fear, that 

against the charge of eccentricity powerful agent ! was supposed to 

and selfishness. Mrs. B.'s remark prevail on him at last. Lady B., 

was made in an untoward hour, poor thing ! will now, I hope, have 

and we will not maintain it in all some peace. She has the advan- 

points. That most extraordinary tage of having now no contrary or 

poet who gave occasion for it is divided affection to contend with, 

now gone abroad, and will, I hope, for she can feel nothing for him 

return no more. The separation now but unmixed aversion and dis- 

was signed before he went. After gust. . . . " 



1816] TO TERRY 365 

The separation, however, is always a shock when it comes, 
cutting up by the roots many an old domestic remem- 
brance, which must now be forgotten because there is no 
longer an individual with whom they can be communi- 
cated. But the old and infirm must make room for those 
who are entering upon the stage, and I sincerely congratu- 
late you upon having acquired a new tie to existence with 
all the duties connected with it. In giving my name to 
the little fellow, see you do not add an L to your own. 
Walter Terry£ would be a most ominous sound. I hope 
Mrs. Terry continues to do as well as you can wish, and 
will soon be up and busy. I have safely received the play, 1 
music, etc. : the scenes seem to hang much more closely to- 
gether than in the original sketch, and it is on the whole 
incalculably improved. The songs are very good. I would 
have you make no alterations in the plates for the music. 
I have arranged with Campbell so that " Rest thee, babe " 
will not in any shape interfere with the way in which they 
now stand. I hope you have safely received a certain 
novel in three volumes. 2 It is at press again, 6000 having 
been sold in six days. ... W. S. 

TO THOMAS SCOTT. 

29th May 1816. 

My dear Tom, — . . . [Statement of T. S.'s interest in 
Major Scott's Estate.] This seems of particular con- 
sequence with respect to little Walter because, of course, 
though it may be very difficult for me to be useful to you, 
it is quite different the power of forwarding a young man's 
views on entering into life, and if he proves what we both 
would wish and hope, he can hardly select a line of life in 
which I could not be directly or indirectly of some service 
to him. There is a possibility also (though such expecta- 

1 Guy Mannering , dramatised by performed at Edinburgh until Feb- 
Terry, was put upon the London ruary 1817. 
stage in March 1816, but was not 2 The Antiquary. 



366 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [May 

tions are of all others the most contingent) that my 
children may be much wealthier than I, in which case 
I would naturally wish to do something for yours, which I 
could do without injustice to my own. So that for every 
reason I would prefer your returning here, were it not for 
the limited income with which you now have to struggle. 
With between £300 and £400 a year economy may doubt- 
less live without running into debt. And without con- 
suming the capital, the interest joined to your annuity will 
amount at least to that sum, independent of what property 
you have remaining in the Isle of Man. 

. . . Times here are not good, but mending. The 
farmers have been half ruined by the sudden fall of the 
value of produce, but I think it is now rising. In fact, 
great part of the panic was owing to the sudden and 
general retrenchment of the Bank credit throughout Scot- 
land. The farmer who used to carry a bill to the Bank to 
pay his rent, was suddenly obliged to send his stock and 
crop to market, instead of that convenient representative 
of his wealth, " Please to pay," and so forth. Where there 
were so many sellers, buyers turned shy, and money became 
daily scarcer. But things are coming round again, after 
much individual distress. . . . Last year I was on the 
Continent for the greater part of the Autumn, and was at 
Paris within a very short time after the battle of Waterloo. 
It was something new to hear the bagpipes playing before 
the Tuileries, and to see the Highlanders broiling on the 
cuirasses of the French Imperial Guards their rations of 
beef and mutton. The Parisians were as gay as ever, not- 
withstanding this recent visit of Europe in arms, and all 
the apparatus of cannon turned upon the celebrated Pont 
Neuf and Pont Royal, with matches burning and a 
Prussian Artilleryman at each longing for orders to fire 
it. My wife and family are all well, and send best love to 
their aunt and you. . . . 



1816] TO THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH 367 

TO THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH. 

Abbotsford, June 5th, 1816. 

My dear Lord, — I have made a start of three days to 
this place to see the great Babylon which I have built, the 
bog which I have drained, or rather attempted to drain, 
and the trees which I have planted. Babylon I found 
about as broad and long as I left it, but as there is no 
certainty in human affairs, the bog has proved not so soft 
as that to which the Bard likened his dear Molly Mogg, 
but on the contrary hard-hearted, or in vulgar phrase, 
surrounded by a good stomacher of whinstone rock, 
and the trees, poor dear creatures ! suffering under the 
influence of a dry cold blighting wind, which, if it lasts, 
will cure us of our complaints of cheap meal for one while. 
To recreate myself under these disappointments, I was 
under the necessity of accepting the honour done me by 
the Souters, who requested me to lay the foundation-stone 
of a sort of barn which is to be called a Free Masons' 
Hall. There was a solemn procession on this occasion, 
which, that it might not want the decorum of costume, 
was attended by weavers from Hawick, shoemakers from 
Jedburgh, and pedlars from Peebles, all very fine in the 
scarfs and trinkums of their respective lodges. If our 
musical band was not complete, it was at least varied, for 
besides the town drum and fife, which thundered in the 
van, we had a pair of bagpipes and two fiddles, and we had 
a prayer from a parson whom they were obliged to initiate 
on the spur of the occasion, who was abominably frightened, 
although I assured him the sanctity of his cloth would 
preserve him from the fate of the youngest brother alluded 
to by Burns in his " Address to the Deil." 

I wish I could by a corner of Prince Houssain's tapestry 
pay your Grace a visit at Bath. I resided there the sixth 
year of my life and have a strong recollection of the Abbey 



368 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Aug. 

Church, the Orange Grove, the Avon, and a statue of 
Neptune, which then stood at the Ferry which led to 
Spring Gardens. I recollect the river as dark and 
yellowish, at least to my northern eyes. ... I beg to be 
most kindly remembered to Lady Anne and the other 
young ladies, the fir and heather chieftains, and all the 
friends around your Grace. I hope your Grace will be 
at Bowhill early enough in the season to make out the 
proposed fishing for the monster 1 at Cauldshields Loch. — 
Believe me, my dear Lord Duke, ever your truly honoured 
and obliged, Walter Scott. 

TO MORRITT. 

Abbotsford, 26th August [1816]. 
My dear Morritt, — I wrote you a long letter the other 
evening. Your plans of operation received this morning 
will suit me most admirably, especially if you come by 
Jedburgh. I must be there at the Circuit on the 14th 
Sept., and abide the 15th (Sunday) in my official attend- 
ance on the Judge. Now, if you sleep at Otterbourne on 
the 13th, which is an indifferent sort of hedge inn, you 
will find me at Jedburgh on the evening of the next day, 
and we have Sunday to look about us at Jedburgh and 
dine with the Judge, who is my old school-fellow and a 
very pleasant man; and on Monday morning, unless 
you should wish to take a turn towards Kelso, we will 
breakfast at Abbotsford. My being able to get to Harvies- 
town depends on my getting forward some work which 
I have in hand, and which I will show you. But at any 
rate, I have plenty of time to weary you to death with 
showing you all that is to be seen, so I expect you will 
stay with me as long as you possibly can. Look over 
Froissart before you visit Otterbourne; the ground con- 
firms his account of the battle wonderfully. You will of 

1 Scott's pet superstition, the Watercow. 



1816] TO MORRITT 36£ 

course visit Hexham: the church is very curious, with 
some old Roman monuments, and the situation beautiful. 
Between a miserable inn called Tom-pill and Otterburne 
(that is supposing you come from Hexham), on a small 
brook near a place called Woodburn, is the curious Roman 
town or camp of Risingham. Near this stood the figure 
called Robin of Risingham, now not existing. It was 
mentioned in the notes to a certain poem called Rokeby, 
and acquired such celebrity that the boor on whose 
grounds it stood, teazed with the number of visitors, broke 
it to pieces. 1 ... I do not know anything else very remark- 
able in that part of the road ; only, on the very march 
when you enter Scotland, the Battle of Reidswire was 
fought, being the last action between the Scotch and 
English. From Jedburgh I hope to be your cicerone my- 
self. 1 write in great haste to save post. All here send 
love and will be delighted to see you. — Most truly yours, 

W. S. 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

Edinburgh, Nov. 27, 1816. 
My dear Friend, — . . . Welcome, my dear friend, to 
the land you honour and to the friends who love you. 2 . . . 
All I ever longed for on the Continent was their light 
wines, which you do not care about, and their fine climate, 
which we should both value equally; and to say truth, 
I never saw scene or palace which shook my allegiance 
to Tweedside and Abbotsford, though so inferior in every 
respect, and though the hills, or rather braes, are just high 
enough " to lift us to the storm " when the storms are not 
so condescending as to sweep both crest and base, which, 
to do them justice, is seldom the case. What have I got 
to send you in return for the sublime description of the 
Alps ? Alas ! nothing but the history of petty employments 

1 Scott's Poetical Works, vol. ix. 2 Mrs. Baillie had just returned 

p. 56. from a tour on the Continent. 

VOL. I. 2 A 



370 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

and a calendar of increasing bad weather. The latter was 
much mitigated by enjoying for a good portion of the 
summer the society of John Morritt, of Kokeby, who has 
so much of that which is delightful, both in his grave 
and gay moods, that he can make us forget the hill- 
side while sitting by the fireside. His late loss x has cast 
a general shade of melancholy over him, which renders 
him yet dearer to his friends, by the gentle and unaffected 
manner in which his natural gaiety of temper gleams 
through it and renders it still more interesting. . . . 

A far different object of interest, yet still of interest 
chequered with pity and disapprobation, is Lord Byron, 
whose present situation seems to rival all that ever has 
been said and sung of the misfortunes of a too irritable 
imagination. The last part of Childe Harold intimates 
a terrible state of mind, and with all the power and 
genius which characterised his former productions, the 
present seems to indicate a more serious and desperate 
degree of misanthropy. I own I was not much moved by 
the scorn of the world which his first poems implied, be- 
cause I know it is a humour of mind which those whom 
fortune has spoilt by indulgence, or irritated by reverses, 
are apt to assume, because it looks melancholy and gentle- 
manlike, and becomes a bard as well as being desperately 
in love, or very fond of the sunrise though he lies in bed 
till noon, or anxious in recommending to others to catch 
cold by visiting old abbeys by moonlight, which he never 
happened to see under the chaste moonbeam himself; but 
this strange poem goes much deeper, and either the Demon 
of Misanthropy is in full possession of him, or he has 
invited ten guests equally desperate, to the swept and gar- 
nished mansion of Harold's understanding. On my word 
of honour, I should expect it to end either in actual in- 
sanity, or something equally frightful. I am glad you have 

1 Mrs. Morritt, as already noted, died in November 1815. 



1816] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 371 

contradicted the reports of his following a course of open 
profligacy. I wonder who can have pleasure in circulating 
such stories, were it not that the degradation of genius 
seems to give as little pain to vulgar minds, as the 'plotting 
a bird does to a cook, who cares little whether it be a 
dunghill cock or a pheasant. I would be glad to hear 
that Lady Byron was as well as circumstances can entitle 
her friends [to expect]. It is a terrible thing to be at- 
tached to the flight of such a balloon as Lord B., and 
the high interest which his writings maintain keeps him 
in a manner before the eyes of the public, and prevents 
his misfortune from dying away and being forgotten as 
in the ordinary case. 1 

To return to my petty affairs. I have some thoughts of 
enlarging Abbotsford this year, and I have got a very pretty 
plan which may be executed at moderate expense, having 
the local advantage of plenty of stones on the property. 
I have always had a private dislike to a regular shape of 
a house, although no doubt it would be very wrong-headed 
to set about building an irregular one from the beginning ; 
but when the cottage enlarges itself and grows out of cir- 
cumstances, which is the case at Abbotsford, the outs and the 
ins without afford so much variety and depth of shade, and 
within give such an odd variety of snug accommodation 
that they far exceed in my estimation the cat-lugged 
band-box, with four rooms on a floor and two stories 
rising regularly above each other. From this you will 
be disposed to augur something rather whimsical, and you 
will be perfectly right. The present mansion consists of 
two parts, divided from each other by an interval of about 
34 feet, and I purpose the new building shall occupy this 
interval, and thus connect the two dwellings. There is to 

1 The third canto of Child, he sent to Murray on January 

Harold had just appeared, and 10th for the Quarterly Review. 

it impressed Scott so deeply Murray's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 373. 

that he wrote a criticism which —See present volume, pp. 412-421. 



372 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

be a small conservatory (think of that) and a little boudoir 
for my fine bust of Shakespeare, a good eating-room, and 
a small den for myself in particular ; the ground falls so 
much in front that I can secure any quantity of accommo- 
dation below. Above I will have two comfortable bed- 
rooms with dressing-closets ; the front, I intend shall have 
some resemblance to one of the old-fashioned English halls 
which your gentlemen of £500 a year lived comfortably in, 
in former days. To augment the resemblance, I have con- 
trived to bespeak certain canopies which at present adorn 
the ancient and venerated, the Tolbooth in Edinburgh, 
so if my building does not give me a niche in the present, 
at least I will get one out of it ; they are finely carved, 
being intended for the reception of saints, and having held 
them, I suppose, till John Knox knock'd them down. 
That curious old building, the Bastile of Edinburgh, and 
formerly the place where the Parliament met, came down 
this year, and the magistrates have very politely promised 
me any part of the ornaments which may suit my purpose, 
and it will be hard if I cannot find a purpose for all that 
is worth carrying thirty miles. 

My plantations have grown this year like any mad, and 
they are the only production which has thriven during 
the late uncommon season, when rain and wind was the 
constant order of the day: the weather has really been 
frightful, and its effects on the country must be serious, 
for much of the corn has been standing in the snow, and 
the potatoes have in general suffer'd exceedingly. The 
same measure which last year was offer'd for nine pence, 
and would hardly fetch that price, now fetches eighteen 
pence, and you know how much our peasantry trust to 
this excellent root. We hope, however, that things will 
not be so bad as we anticipated some time since. There 
has been a sudden and unexpected start in the price of 
live stock, which about a month since was depreciated in 



1816] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 373 

a degree almost ruinous to the tenantry, and must have 
ruined many. This is of great consequence, for if the 
farmer is ruined, he cannot employ the labourer. Money 
seems also to be becoming plenty, and credit is said to 
be better, though no one knows very well why. The 
opening of the ports for importation has had a great effect 
in setting the looms agoing at Glasgow and elsewhere, for 
the continental merchants are willing enough to take our 
commodities, only they have no money to pay for them, 
unless by our buying their corn. So that I trust upon 
the whole, things will gradually come round again; the 
unnatural state of things and the distorted channels of 
commerce, which gradually arise out of the state of war, 
make a dislocation which cannot be reduced to its natural 
and proper state without pain and suffering. In the 
meantime, these are encouragements to an improver like 
myself for carrying on all my hobby-horsical plans, for as 
Uncle Toby says, " is it not in the cause of the country ? " 
In fact, we must find the poor folks work, and if that is 
all they ask, — which, after all, is only diverting our super- 
fluities to our own enjoyments, by means of their labour, — 
all who have the means of doing it should find them 
employment, — the best charity in one point of view, since 
it preserves the independence of the labourer's character, 
and is most useful in another, since the employer must 
derive pleasure or advantage, or both, while he essentially 
benefits the person employed. — Ever most truly yours, 

Walter Scott. 

to lady abercorn. 

November, 1816. 

... I cannot even conjecture who you mean by Mr. 
Mackenzie as author of the Antiquary. I should think 
my excellent old friend, Mr. Harry Mackenzie (author of 
the Man of Feeling, etc.), was too much advanced in years 



374 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [Nov. 

and plunged in business to amuse himself by writing 
novels, and besides, the stile in no degree resembles his. 
I am told one of the English reviews gives these works by 
name, and upon alleged authority, to George Forbes, 
Sir William's brother. So they take them off my hands, 
I don't care who they [give] them to, for I am really tired 
of an imputation which I am under the necessity of 
confuting at every corner. Tom will be soon home from 
Canada, as the death of my elder brother has left him a 
little money, and he may answer for himself; but I hardly 
suspect him, unless much changed, to be possessed of the 
perseverance necessary to write nine volumes. . . . 

. . . The only thing I have been doing of late is to 
write two or three songs for a poor man called Campbell, 
a decay'd artist and musician, who tried to teach me 
music many years ago. He has made an immense collec- 
tion of Highland airs, and I have given him words for some 
of them. One of them is the only good song I ever wrote 
— it is a fine Highland Gathering tune called Pibroch an 
Donuil Dhu, that is, the Pibroch of Donald the Black. As 
your Ladyship likes scraps of minstrelsy, and I have little 
that is interesting to say, I add the words. 1 . . . 



TO LADY LOUISA STUART. 

Edinburgh, Nov. 14th, 1816. 

Dear Lady Louisa, — Your kind token of remembrance 
would not have remained so long unanswered, but for an 
inroad of visitors who relieved guard upon me without 
intermission until I left Abbotsford two days ago, and the 
little time which I could spare for my pen was necessarily 
dedicated to getting forward with the labour I had in 
hand, and which after all was a little, or rather not a 
little, interrupted. For, besides that Abbotsford affords 

1 See Poetical Works, vol. xi. p. 319. 



1816.] TO LADY LOUISA STUAKT 375 

no more opportunity of seclusion than one would possess 
in a moderate-sized lanthorn, there is a sort of pleasure in 
the present state of matters there to run about with every 
new stranger, and tell him this I have done and this do I 
design to do — so have things been formerly — thus they 
stand now, and thus seen by prophetic spectacles they 
will show hereafter. . . . The unfortunate guests, to be 
sure, pay for their beef and port with wet feet, and 
perhaps sore throats, when they are carried round to 
see nature in her primitive nakedness, and the tailors 
engaged in cutting out her new cloaths. But then, 
what came they forth to the wilderness to see ? For my 
part, I make it a rule never to spare them either for 
pinch'd features, benumb'd hands, miry feet, or doleful 
looks, and receive all the compliments which their sad 
civility compels them to muster as a debt due and a thing 
of course. In the meantime, hours slip away, dinner 
comes, and we are hungry — evening, and we are lazy — 
night, and we are sleepy, and thus wears the world away. 
In the midst of all these avocations, and at the expense 
of neglecting the correspondence of some valued friend 
(among whom none can rank more highly than Lady 
Louisa Stuart), I have accomplished a novel, or rather 
four volumes of tales, chiefly that I might not ruin myself 
or do injustice to my family by this same rage of im- 
proving like any mad. I intended to have written four 
tales illustrative of the manners of Scotland in her different 
provinces. 1 But, as no man that wrote so much ever knew 
so little what he intended to do when he began to write, 
or executed less of the little which he had premeditated, I 
totally altered my plan before I had completed my first 
volume. I began a border tale 2 well enough, but tired of 

1 Scott dedicated the First Series South, Gentlemen of the North, 

of the Tales of my Landlord "To People of the West, or Folk of Fife." 
his loving countrymen, whether 

they are denominated Men of the 2 Black Dwarf. 



376 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

the ground I had trod so often before I had walked over 
two-thirds of the course. Besides, I found I had circum- 
scribed my bounds too much, and, in manege phrase, that 
my imagination, not being well in hand, could not lunge 
easily within so small a circle. So I quarrelled with my 
story, and bungled up a conclusion, as a boarding-school 
Miss finishes a task which she had commenced with great 
glee and accuracy. In the next tale I have succeeded 
better — at least I think so. It is a covenanting story; 
the time lies at the era of Bothwell Brigg, 1 the scene in 
Lanarkshire. There are noble subjects for narrative 
during that period, full of the strongest light and shadow, 
all human passions stirr'd up and stimulated by the 
most powerful motives, and the contending parties as 
distinctly contrasted in manners and in modes of thinking 
as in political principles. I am complete master of the 
whole history of these strange times, both of persecutors 
and persecuted, so I trust I have come decently off, for as 
FalstafF very reasonably asks, is not the truth the truth ? 
You will soon judge for yourself, as I will take care to 
send an early copy to Gloucester Place, conditionally that 
your Ladyship will have the goodness not to shew it to 
any one till it is regularly published in London, for it is 
very odd what trifles are summon'd up as articles of 
evidence. I will tell you when we meet what may have 
given rise to my brother 's being named as the author of 
Waverley, etc. It is a report which, if he would avail 
himself of the very strong talents both of pathetic and 
humorous description which he really possesses (car ily a 
de quoi), he might make a very fortunate report for 
him. But he is one of the many many hundreds in whom 
indolence has strangled genius, and the habits acquired in 
an unsettled state of life are highly unfavourable to his 
ever doing anything in this way, though the state of his 

1 Old Mortality. 



1816] TO LADY LOUISA STUART 377 

family would render it the wisest thing he could do. As 
for Harold the Dauntless, I hope soon to finish him and 
have him out, so as to charge horse and foot in the same 
month. My ostensible employment is a view of the 
history of Scotland, long since written, and on which I set 
so much value that I shall revise it with great care. 
Such therefore is your answer, my dear Lady Louisa, 
when any one asks you what your friend W. S. is about. 
Morritt was well, and generally speaking in good spirits 
when he was with us : he bears and feels his loss like a 
man. but he seems to have set up his rest and hope on 
his nephew. Now this I do not like, for the poor young 
lad has a consumptive habit, and the idea that our valued 
friend is to dedicate his time and to build his happiness 
on a prop so apt to fail him, seems to me rather alarming ; 
much, much rather would I hear that he had form'd a 
new connection, and I am only afraid of his pronouncing 
himself so decidedly just now as may prevent him from 
thinking of it at another time. These things, however, 
go most especially by destiny, and to destiny let us leave 
them. ... I wish I could say I think the Duke 1 well, but 
I do not; his spirits get above his strength, and he is 
cheerful and makes others so, but he looks ill in general, 
and I cannot look upon him without the most anxious 
apprehensions. Would to God he had a regular and 
hearty fit of the gout, for I think it flits about him in an 
unpleasant manner. The young ladies are really charm- 
ing girls, so gentle and sensible, and fond of each other, as 
well as attentive to their father. Surely the family affec- 
tions which Heaven has bestow'd on that family are 
worth all other advantages. 

Adieu, my dear Lady Louisa. Mrs. Scott joins her 
respectful compliments, and I ever am most truly yours, 

Walter Scott. 

1 Charles, Duke of Buccleuch. 



378 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

TO MOKRITT. 

Abbotsford, 22d November 1816. 

My dear Morritt, — I hope this will find you well 
recovered of all the colds and wettings which you caught 
in the land of mist and snow, and not quite shivering when 
you think of the banks of the Tweed. We have left them 
for two or three days, and are now safely settled in Castle 
Street. One of our first occupations was to unpack Shake- 
speare and his superb pedestal, which is positively the 
most elegant and appropriate piece of furniture which I 
ever saw. It has been the admiration of all who have 
seen it, and that has been half Edinburgh, for aught 
that I know, for its arrival has made a great sensation. 
. . . The figure came safe; and the more I look at it 
the more I feel that it must have resembled the Bard 
much more than any of the ordinary prints, unless it be 
that in the first folio edition, 1 which has all the appearance 
of being taken from it. The forehead is more expanded, 
and has not a narrow, peaked, and priggish look incon- 
sistent with the dignity of Shakespeare's character, and 
which strongly marks all the ordinary portraits, which 
seem to me more like Spenser than Shakespeare. 

But to descend from Shakespeare, his bust and cabinet, 
to matters of humbler import, you will receive in a day or 
two the Tales of My Landlord. The last is, I think, the 
best I have yet been able to execute, although written by 
snatches and at intervals. It is quite finished, and I ex- 
pect to get copies in boards by Friday or Saturday. Yours 
of course will be sent among the foremost, and I will be 
glad to learn it reaches you safe and gives you amusement. 

All things go on with us as usual. I have settled 
Walter tightly to his Greek and Latin, to which we add 

1 Published in 1623. Shake- It is believed to have been taken 

speare died in 1616, and the bust in from a death mask — See Winter's 

Stratford Church was placed there Shakspeare's England. 
within seven years after his death. 



1816] TO MORRITT 379 

French, Italian, and the elements of mathematics. He 
goes to the manege thrice a week, and fences twice. With 
reading history and attending to geography, he will have 
enough to do through the winter. As for me, I bother 
on with my proposed addition, and I have got, since I had 
the benefit of your advice, that of Bullock and Mr. Blore, 
so that I have every chance of ruining myself genteelly. 
Meantime, they have ordered a new edition of the Tales, 
which will help out these mighty operations against they 
are set agoing. By the way, I have just received Childe 
Harold, part 3rd. 1 Lord Byron has more avowedly identi- 
fied himself with his personage than upon former occa- 
sions, and in truth does not affect to separate them. It 
is wilder and less sweet, I think, than the first part, but 
contains even darker and more powerful pourings forth 
of the spirit which boils within him. I question whether 
there ever lived a man who, without looking abroad for 
subjects excepting as they produced an effect on himself, 
has contrived to render long poems turning almost entirely 
upon the feelings, character, and emotions of the author, 
so deeply interesting. We gaze on the powerful and 
ruined mind which he presents us, as on a shattered 
castle, within whose walls, once intended for nobler guests, 
sorcerers and wild demons are supposed to hold their 
Sabbaths. There is something dreadful in reflecting that 
one gifted so much above his fellow-creatures, should thus 
labour under some strange mental malady that destroys his 
peace of mind and happiness, altho' it cannot quench the 
fire of his genius. I fear the termination will be fatal in one 
way or other, for it seems impossible that human nature 
can support the constant working of an imagination so 
dark and so strong. Suicide or utter insanity is not 

1 On which Scott wrote the article, as will be seen, displeased 
generous criticism in the 31st No. Lady Byron's friends. See ante, 
of the Quarterly Review. This p. 371, note, and post, pp. 413-422. 



380 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Nov. 

unlikely to close the scene. " Orandum sit," as the sapient 
Partridge says, " ut sit mens sana in corpore sano" x 

Our weather here has been somewhat better ever since 
the eclipse. The sun, I suppose, felt himself bound in 
honour to show that he had not been extinguished out- 
right on Monday last, which was much to be apprehended, 
considering the blinking way in which he has been all 
summer. For my part, I would not consent to look at 
the eclipse at all, for the sight of the unshadowed sun 
would have been much the greater singularity of the two 
as things have gone this season. Adieu, let this sheet of 
nonsense only intimate that I long to hear from you, and 
am grateful for the kindness that gave me so much of 
your time at Abbotsford. I am fininishing my tale of the 
heathen Dane. 2 Mrs. Scott and the young folks offer 
respectful and affectionate remembrances, and I am ever, 
my dear Morritt, most truly yours, Walter Scott. 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

29th November [1816], 

My dear Lady Abercorn, — I have been long waiting 
for an opportunity of writing to you with a good grace, 
and I think I have found one which may in some degree 
atone for my ungracious silence, which after all has only 
arisen from my having nothing to say that I thought 
likely to interest you. I have sent, under Mr. Arbuthnot's 
cover, four volumes of a novel, or rather a set of novels, 
which I am strongly inclined to swear are the production 
of the unknown author of Guy Mannering, about which 
you are so much interested. I suppose it will be soon 
published in London, but I hope these volumes will reach 
your Ladyship before that takes place. The bookseller 
here says he is not to publish till next week, but gave me 

1 Tom Jones, book xii. cap. 4. in six cantos, published anony- 

2 Harold the Dauntless, a poem, mously in 1816. 



1816] TO LADY ABERCOKN 381 

a reading of the volumes, and at my earnest entreaty 
parted with the set I have the honour to beg your accept- 
ance of. I do not like the first story at all. But the long 
one, which occupies three volumes, is a most extraordinary 
production. I cannot think it at all likely that young 
Harry Mackenzie x wrote these books. I know him very 
well, and have no idea that he has either time or disposi- 
tion to bestow it on such compositions. He is high at the 
bar, and has a great deal too much to do for writing novels. 
His brother James might be more likely to amuse himself 
in that way, but I think this also is unlikely. I should 
like to know if you are of my opinion as to these new 
volumes coming from the same hand. They form two 
small packets addressed to your Ladyship under cover to 
Mr. Arbuthnot, Treasury, and I trust will come safe. 

I conclude you have seen Lord Byron's new poem. He 
is a person of most wonderful powers, and I think in no- 
thing more admirable than in the new and fresh interest 
with which he can present his own feelings, and his own 
disposition, and his own misfortunes. Almost all char- 
acters from Harold to Alp Arslan are more or less Lord 
Byron himself, and yet you never tire of them. It is the 
same set of stormy emotions acting on the same powerful 
mind, distinguished equally by the eccentricities and the 
temperament of genius ; it is the same sea in short, dashing 
upon the same rocks, yet presented to us under such variety 
of appearance that they have all the interest of novelty. 

I have been living quietly at home all the last summer, 
working hard at planting and improving my little property, 
which of late I have extended to about six hundred acres, 
most of which are of a waste and wild description, but not 
incapable, from the inequality and exposure of the ground, 
to be made romantic, and even in some parts beautiful, by 
planting extensively. So I saunter about from nine in the 

1 Afterwards Lord Mackenzie. 



382 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 

morning till five at night with a plaid about my shoulders 
and an immensely large bloodhound at my heels, 1 and 
stick in sprigs which are to become trees when I shall have 
no eyes to look at them. Somebody will look at them, 
however, though I question if they will have the same 
pleasure in gazing on the full-grown oaks that I have had 
in nursing the saplings. There is something in these 
operations that connects us more with futurity than any- 
thing which we can undertake, for we are sowing that pos- 
terity may reap, and planting that they may cut down. 

I conclude all the improvements at the Priory are now 
completed, and that you are in quiet possession, and not 
thinking of London until spring. We have had dreadful 
weather in this country, unmatched by anything in the 
memory of man. A fortnight since people were cutting 
corn in the midst of the snow, and this not only in upland 
districts, but in the best corn country. Corn is of course 
rising fast, and as the wages of the labourers are low, I fear 
there will be disturbances, unless care is taken in time for 
preventing them. — Ever, I am, with the most sincere regard, 
dear Lady Abercorn, your truly grateful and obliged friend, 

Walter Scott. 



TO THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH. 

Edinr., l4Jh December 1816. 

. . . Your Grace's health is too valuable to your friends 
and the country, more especially at this moment, to permit 
us to be very easy while you are complaining. Why not 
try Bath, my dear Lord ? It was of service on former occa- 
sions, and I own I should not think the warm air inside of 
Bowhill, when contrasted with the very sharp air without 
doors, favourable to the cough at this time, when I think 
the devil seems to have taken possession of a certain party 

1 Maida, see Glengarry's letter, ante, page 358. 



1816] TO THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH 383 

of the community. But if I were to say to you in the 
words of Shakespeare — 

" what a time you have chose out, brave Chieftain, 
To wear the kerchief ; would you were not sick," 

your heart, if not your tongue, would reply — 

"lam not sick if Romans have in hand 
Any exploit worthy the name of honour." 

Artillery is off for Glasgow, and also the arms to be de- 
livered to the elite of the volunteers. I believe Govern- 
ment are in possession of the plans of the discontented, 
and that they are very extensive. They cannot but ulti- 
mately bring their actors into destruction; but much 
bloodshed will be avoided by timely precaution. Here 
we are quiet, expecting the great Archduke Nicholas, a 
shabby sort of name methinks — 

" Alas ! Nick. Nick, alas ! 
Right did they gossip," etc. 

rushes involuntarily into one's mind. He is to be enter- 
tained by the Advocate on Wednesday and the Provost on 
Thursday. It is lucky we have such a respectable father 
of the City at present. He may sing with Cicero — 

" fortunatam natam me consule Romam." 

Indeed, he deserves to be elevated from Dickie Gossip, as 
we used to term him of yore, into Sir Kichard Gossip. 1 
Certainly I have seen provosts who would have made 
strange work upon such occasions. 

Lord Byron's poems mark great progress, I suspect, of 
the insane turn which he has lately shewn, and which I 
always thought his very particular cast of features strongly 
indicated. . . . 

i Mr. Wm. Arbuthnot, then Lord Poetical Works, vol. x. p. 365. Mr. 

Provost of Edinburgh, entertained Arbuthnot was again in the same 

the Grand Duke Nicholas at a office when King George visited 

dinner on December 19th, 1816, Edinburgh in 1822, and was then 

for which Scott wrote a song. — See created a Baronet. 



384 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [Dec. 

As your Grace is in the way of idle reading, I have 
forwarded by the coach a copy of certain historical affairs 
called Tales of my Landlord, which give no bad picture of 
the eminent covenanting period in Scotland. I was sur- 
prised to find Ballantyne had not sent a copy to Bowhill 
of these and other matters. When I have the honour to 
meet your Grace, I trust to find you well recovered. 
Charles Sharpe projects a publication of original letters, 
from which I think much amusement will be derived. I 
know no man so deep in old genealogy and antiquated 
scandal ; I fear he will destroy the honour of God knows 
how many of the great-grandmothers of our present 
noblesse. I believe the work will not be for sale, but I will 
take care your Grace has a copy. 

... I beg to be most respectfully remembered to the 
young ladies. Walter is working at the riding with 
Colonel Leatham, to serve Lord Dalkeith, in the auld 
phrase, " when he hath aught to do." I suppose following 
the greyhounds will be the first feudal service. — Ever, my 
dear Lord, your Grace's truly faithful and obliged, 

Walter Scott. 

to the same. 

Edinr., 21st December 1816. 

My dear Lord Duke, — I am glad the tales arrived. 
James Ballantyne swore himself even blacker in the face 
than nature hath made him that they were regularly de- 
spatched, so I suppose that . . . the packet went on to 
Carlisle and only reached Bowhill on its return. As your 
Grace is in the humour of looking after the Covenanters, I 
beg to add to the Bowhill collection the History of Wodrow 
in two volumes, folio, now become rare. I happen to have 
two copies, my father having lent his to an old friend, no 
great arithmetician, but a capital book-keeper, whose repre- 
sentatives had the honesty to restore it after his death. It 



1816] TO THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH 385 

is a prolix piece of work, and altogether unfit to be read 
from beginning to end; but there are many curious pas- 
sages, especially interesting to the local antiquary. I add 
a collection of the lives of the most eminent covenanting 
heroes, published by an old Cameronian farmer called 
Wilson, 1 a tenant of Lady Loudoun. 2 He was still alive 
when the present young Lady came of age, and at the 
entertainment then given to the tenantry she requested to 
have this singular remnant and record of times and opinions 
pointed out to her. She was requested to look around, and 
assured she would not fail to distinguish him. Accordingly 
she at once fixed on an old man with long white hair, a 
bonnet of extravagant dimensions, a blackish grey suit of 
an uniform colour, and coarse gaiters of the same, which 
looked like the spirit of some old covenanter come straight 
from a conventicle. Her Ladyship made up to the old 
Trojan, and told him she was aware for how many genera- 
tions his ancestors had possessed the farm of Loch some- 
thing or other, and how ready they had been to follow her 
ancestors in resisting popery and arbitrary power, and 
therefore she was determined the rent of that possession 
should never be raised during her lifetime, and therewithal 
she gave him her fair hand in token of her promise. But 
the cunning old codger replied that he was infinitely bound 
to her Ladyship, but that although in the good auld times 
licking thumbs was the only ceremony necessary to make 
good a bargain, yet in the slippery paths of this contu- 

1 In Old Mortality (W. N., vol. old chronicler of the Cameronians, " 

x. p. 156), Scott refers to "A True as Scott styled him, who died in 

and Impartial Account of the per- 1793. The first edition of his Scots 

secuted Presbyterians of Scotland, Worthies was published in 1775, 

their being in Arms, and Defeat and the second in 1781 ; since then 

at Bothwell Brigg in 1679, by it has often been reprinted. See 

William Wilson, late schoolmaster also Bedgauntlet, W. N. , vol. xxxv. 

in the parish of Douglas," but the p. 196, note. 

description of the Cameronian a Flora, Countess of Loudoun in 

farmer applies more closely to her own right, wife of Lord Moira, 

John Howie of Lochgoin, "the fine afterward Marquis of Hastings. 

VOL. I. 2 B 



386 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [Dec. 

inacious and backsliding generation, a scrap of stamp-paper 
was deem'd essential to ensure performance, and so he 
converted what was perhaps a hasty compliment into a 
tight life-rent lease. This book is a very singular one and 
some winter day I will cover it with marginal notes for 
your Grace : the account of the Battle of Bothwell Bridge 
is very circumstantial and singular. I hope, my dear Lord, 
you never refrain from asking any question respecting my 
scribbling, the answer to which would give you the least 
gratification. If I do not speak to your Grace on these 
subjects it is because I don't remember we ever wanted 
topics of conversation, and might be afraid of annoying 
you till your Grace should tell me as the German Prince 
told the Marquis of Tullibardine, Je suis fdche de vous et 
de vos petites affaires} 

My view of Scottish History is not yet gone to press, 
for I wait Thomson's proposed publication of the Cham- 
berlain rolls, which cannot but clear some doubtful 
passages. If your Grace should in the meantime think 
of commencing a course of Scottish history, I would 
recommend Lord Hailes' Annals, Pinkerton's history, 
Robertson's history, Laing's history, which series contains 
the full history of Scotland. These books are very 
different in merit, but of this when we meet. I am truly 
glad of the example your Grace sets to the country, and 
am sure the good sense of Saunders will discover the 
difference between those old patrons who fill his mouth 
with bread, and now and then his noddle with a little 
punch, and those new ones who would fill his brain with 
political discontent, and still his hunger with universal 
suffrage. 2 After all, " Le vrai Amphitrion est I'Amphitrion 
oil Von dine" as is wisely concluded by Moliere's Sosia. I 

1 The Duke had said : " You will of your intended publications." 

do me the justice to admit that I 2 At Bowhill the rule was when 

have never availed myself of my a fox was killed to give the beaters 

intimacy with you to spy out any a guinea's worth of punch. 



1816] TO JOHN KICHAKDSON 387 

propose myself that pleasure at Bowhill one day soon. 
Maida is a little lame, but if he gets better I would like 
to slip him at a fox, should that matter be going any 
day next week. I shall be at Abbotsford on Monday to 
remain about eight days, wind and weather serving. I beg 
kind respects to Lady Anne and the rest of the Baronial 
fireside. — Ever your Grace's truly obliged and grateful, 

Walter Scott. 



TO JOHN RICHARDSON. 

Abbotsford, 23d December 1816. 

I hope you had the Tales of my Landlord, an early 
copy, though you have not said that they came to hand. 
They have apparently succeeded to a wish. At least no 
sale could be better than theirs is reported to be. 

I beg to call to your mind the case of poor Henry 
Weber. You will find it better stated by his sister, Mrs. 
Fawcett, in the enclosed letter, than I can pretend to do. 
Her husband was a captain in the Militia. Now these are 
reduced, she also must have enough to do. If anything 
can be got from the Literary Fund, he is certainly a fair 
object, both from genius and distress. Here it is difficult to 
get English money, so I enclose a cheque for £10 sterling 
on Sir William Forbes, and pray you in lieu of it to forward 
a £10 note to Mrs. Fawcett, along with the enclosed letter, 
which please to seal with a head, and at the same time 
acquaint her whether or when anything can be done for 
her brother's assistance. You will see what I have said 
in the letter to her, which I hope is not drawing too deep 
on your friendship in a calamitous case of this kind, or 
committing you too much. 

I have enlarged my dominions here not greatly in 
extent, but infinitely in point of beauty, as my boundary is 
now a strange secluded ravine full of old thorn trees, hazels, 



388 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 

guelder roses, willows, and so forth, with a dashing rivulet 
and certain large stones which in England your cocknies 
would call rocks. I call it the Rhymer's Glen, as it makes 
part of the scene where Thomas the Rhymer is said to have 
met the Queen of the Fairies. Vulgarly, it is called Dick's 
Cleugh — a fico for the phrase. I hope Mrs. Richardson and 
the bairns are well, as we are at writing hereof. I am here 
for the Christmas recess. Would I could stay longer, for 
neither frost nor snow, and we have enough of both, could 
keep me within doors here, and fine weather hardly can 
drag me out to the plainstanes of Edinburgh. — Yours 
truly, Walter Scott. 

A Merry Christmas to you and yours. 

TO TERRY. 

25th December 1816. 

My dear Terry, — The " leetle poopy dog " x arrived in 
great preservation, a little lean and qualmish however after 
his sea voyage. From the length of his tail and the thin- 
ness of the hair thereupon, he promises to rival the fame 
of his predecessor, and I account him a real treasure. We 
have got him safely out here maugre snow and wind, which 
have been whistling finely on all sides of us ; in fact we 
got through yesterday with great difficulty. I waded up to 
the knees about two miles in snow; however, we made it out. 
To-day it is soft weather and everything afloat. But I 
hope to spend a week here in the midst of plans for planting 
and building, and Lord knows what. Taneguy du Chdtel, 
ou es-tu ? What work I should have for your measuring 
lines and compasses, could a wish bring you to the side 
of these blazing logs and send you back again to your 
necessary and important avocations. 

Mr. Magrath is one of the most correct as well as one 

1 The black greyhound, Mar- See Washington Irving's Newstead 
mion, afterwards named Hamlet. and Abbotsford. 



1816] TO TERRY 389 

of the sweetest singers I ever heard. How he may succeed 
on the stage may depend partly upon other circumstances, 
but his vocal powers must be successful. He appears also 
to be a modest, sensible man. . . . He flattered me much 
by being pleased with Sophia's singing Scotch ballads. 
Did I tell you Mr. Blore has made a beautiful exterior 
for my cottage ? and did I tell you that I have acquired 
a new glen near the lake? a quiet, invisible sort of a 
dell where a witch might boil her kettle in happy 
seclusion among old thorn trees and scathed rocks, in a 
deep ravine totally out of sight unless you fall on it by 
accident. My predecessor had a humour of digging for 
coal in it, which prevented him including it in our first 
bargain, but being cured of that folly he has bequeathed 
me two or three lateral excavations which a little coaxing 
will turn into natural caverns. The last man who wanted 
work in this parish has been for some time employ'd 
in constructing a path up this odd glen. I call it the 
Bhymer's Glen, because it makes part of Huntly Wood 
where Thomas the Rhymer met the Queen of the Fairies. 
All this is but a sort of trash, but it is what my head is 
just now most busy about. 

I hope you will make my respectful thanks acceptable 
to Mr. St. Aubyn for the very handsome and valued present 
he has made me in Marmion. I have not yet ventured 
to change his name, having been so called, though perhaps 
it would be a more proper epithet in another person's pos- 
session. I have some thoughts of calling him Harold if I 
get over this scruple. I expect him to win many a silver 
collar. It is in good company, for I have two gallant brutes 
now as ever ran. I plagued your neighbour Mr. Bullock 
some days since about some plans which he carried up 
with him for my interior arrangements. I trust I shall 
have them in a day or two, as my castle must stand still 
till I get them. Maida, my great dog, has been sitting at 



390 SCOTT'S FAMILIAK LETTERS [Dec. 

Mr. Blore's instance to Mr. Nasmyth, who admires him very 
much. I was obliged to attend the sittings myself, for the 
subject though regularly supplied with a cold beef bone 
was apt to grow impatient. Mrs. Scott sends her kindest 
respects to Mrs. Terry ; as for the pens, I have intercepted 
them, judging I was the most likely of the two to find 
employment for them. They are by far the most useful 
invention of the kind I have yet seen. I beg my compli- 
ments to the Lady and the kinchin, 1 and am, truly yours, 

Walter Scott. 
A merry Christmas to you. 

TO LADY ABERCORN. 

Abbotsford, 28th December 1816. 

My dear Lady Abercorn, — I am truly glad the Tales 
have amused you. In my poor opinion they are the best 
of the four sets, though perhaps I only think so on account 
of their opening ground less familiar to me than the 
manners of the Highlanders. I can assure your Ladyship 
your laudable curiosity about the author would not remain 
ungratified, but if Tom wrote these volumes, he has not 
put me in his secret. He has certainly powers both of 
pathos and humour, and has also read a great deal of old- 
fashioned sort of reading, but I greatly doubt his possessing 
the steadiness of application necessary to write twelve or 
thirteen volumes in the space of two or three years ; and, 
moreover, I do not see why he should so rigorously keep 
his secret. By-the-bye, he and his family are coming 
home; he has succeeded to about £3000 by my eldest 
brother's death, and will have, I suppose, as much more 
when my mother is removed from us. So they cannot be 
said to be in distress, if they will but be good managers, 
especially as he has a small salary besides. His wife has 
come over. 

1 A child, in cant language. German, Kindchen. 



1816] TO LADY ABEECOEN 391 

To return to the Tales. . . . Burley is a real person, 
and appears in the melancholy history of the period as 
the leader of the party who killed Archbishop Sharpe on 
Magus Moor, near St. Andrews. The command was first 
offered to Hackston of Eathillet (Balfour's brother-in-law), 
who declined it on account of there being some private 
dispute between the prelate and him, which might lead 
to the misconstruction of what these fanatics called the 
execution of judgement. Rathillet and Burley were both 
at the skirmish of Drumclog, where Clavers was beaten, 
and at that of Bothwell Bridge. Hackston was after- 
wards taken and executed, but Burley escaped, and died 
almost immediately before the Revolution; and, if I 
mistake not, was on board the Prince of Orange's own 
vessel at the time of his death. There was also in the 
Life Guards such a person as Francis Stewart, the 
grandson of the last Earl of Bothwell. I have in my 
possession various proceedings at his father's instance, for 
recovering some part of the Earl's large estates which had 
been granted to the Earls of Buccleuch and Roxburgh. It 
would appear Charles I. made some attempts to reinstate 
him in these lands, but, like most of that poor monarch's 
measures, the attempt only served to augment his own 
enemies, for Buccleuch was one of the first who declared 
against him in Scotland, and raised a regiment of 1200 
men, of whom my grandfather's grandfather, Sir William 
Scott of Harden, was Lieutenant-Colonel. This regiment 
was very active at the destruction of Montrose's Highland 
army at Philiphaugh, of which the country people still sing 

a rhyme — 

" At Philiphaugh the fray began, 
At Hareheadwood it ended ; 
The Scotts out o'er the Graemes they ran, 
Sae merrily they bended." 

In Charles n.'s time this old knight suffered as 
much through the non-conformity of his lady as Cuddie 



392 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTEES [Dec. 

through that of his mother. It seems the lady would not 
be kept from Eildon Hills when there was any worthy Mr. 
Kettledrummle or precious Mr. Rumbleberry to give her a 
screed of doctrine. So Sir William was repeatedly called 
before the privy council, and fined at different times to the 
amount of several thousand pounds, although he protested 
he was totally unable to rule his wife, and requested the 
Council to take the management of her Ladyship into its 
own hands. But notwithstanding what one would have 
thought a most reasonable plea, they sent him to Edin- 
burgh Castle, and afterwards to the Bass Island, where he 
suffered three years' imprisonment. My father's grand- 
mother, who lived to the uncommon age of 98 years, per- 
fectly remembered being carried when a girl to these field- 
preachings with her mother, where the clergyman thundered 
from the top of a rock, and the ladies sate upon their 
side-saddles, which were placed on the turf for their accom- 
modation, while the men all stood round armed with swords 
and pistols, and watches were kept on each neighbouring 
eminence to give notice of the approach of the soldiers. 
I mention these minute circumstances in order to make 
your Ladyship aware how nearly our oral and family tradi- 
tions connect themselves with these disorderly times. 

I do not know that there is precisely such a place as 
the Linn, described at the end of the tale. But in most 
of the mountainous parts of Scotland such strange places 
are to be found. I went on a pilgrimage with the Duke of 
Buccleuch to visit one of them not long since, and it was 
as horrible a place as imagination can form, and of a very 
break-neck character. Here also some of the heroes of the 
covenant are said to have held out, though it passes belief 
how humanity could hold out against the cold, wet, and 
accumulated horrors of such an abode. Only I don't think 
it could be much worse than we have had with snow, flood, 
and tempest, for these eight days that my wife and I have 



1816] TO LADY ABERCORN 393 

inhabited this cottage. But I feel very like Goldsmith's 

Swiss — 

" Dear is the shed that to rny soul conforms, 
And dear the hill that lifts me to the storms." 

So I have been among the mists and snows about five or 
six hours every day. 

On looking over my letter it reminds me of the 
character Captain Bobadil gives of Squire Downright : 
" All old iron and rusty proverbs, a good commodity for 
a smith to make hob-nails with." 1 After all, I recollect 
one circumstance which may interest you concerning these 
tales. Old Mortality was a living person. I have myself 
seen him about twenty years ago repairing the Cove- 
nanters' tombs as far north as Dunnottar. It was his 
sole occupation and only business on earth. I have an 
indistinct recollection that he was from the parish of Close- 
burn, in Nithsdale, and that his name was Paterson. 2 . . . 

FROM LADY LOUISA STUART. 

Gloucester Place, December 5th, 1816. 
Dear Mr. Scott, — I came to town yesterday morning, 
to leave it again to-morrow. I found something you wot 
of upon my table, and as I dare not take it with me to a 
friend's house for fear of exciting curiosity (" What is that ? 
and how did you come by it?") I have been reading 
against time, devouring the food till I am almost choked. 
However, gone through it fairly though hastily I have, 
and now it is locked up in a drawer, there to lie safely till 
I hear of it from others, and assure yourself no human 
being shall hear of it from me. 3 I agree with you the 
second tale is the best ; and yet while reading the first I 
wondered what you meant by saying so, for it interested 

1 Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour, Act i. sc. 4. 

2 See Introduction to W. N., vol. ix. 

3 Black Dwarf and Old Mortality. 



394 SCOTT'S FAMILIAK LETTEES [Dec. 

me strongly. But the second is super-excellent in all its 
points ; it breaks up fresh ground, and has all the raciness 
of originality. I cannot help thinking it will bear down 
the world before it triumphantly. As usual with certain 
authors, it makes its personages our intimate acquaintance, 
and its scenes so present to the eye that last night after 
sitting up unreasonably late over it, I got no sleep, from a 
kind of fever of mind it had occasioned. It seemed as if 
I had been an eye and ear witness of all the passages, and 
I could not lull the agitation into calmness. Mause and 
Cuddie hurried my spirits in another way ; they forced me 
to laugh out aloud, which one seldom does alone. On 
a second slower reading I expect to be still better pleased, 
and then also I suppose I shall find out the faults. At 
present it has, in the Scotch phrase, " taken me off my 
feet," and I do not criticise, though I think you will believe 
me when I say I do not and will not flatter. One thing I 
regret, that like the author of the Antiquary Jedediah did 
not add a glossary ; because even I, a mongrel, occasionally 
paying long visits to Scotland, and hearing Girsy at 
Bothwell gate and Peggy Macgowan hold forth in the 
village, — even I, thus qualified, have found a great many 
words absolute Hebrew to me, and I fear the altogether 
English will find very many more beyond their comprehen- 
sion or conjecture. But this may be remedied in another 
edition. I have as yet only one great attack to make, and 
that upon a single word ; but such a word ! such an ana- 
chronism! Claverhouse says he has no time to hear 
sentimental speeches. 1 My dear sir ! tell Jedediah that 
Claverhouse never heard the sound of those four syllables 
in his life. We are used to them; but sentiment and 
sentimental were, I believe, first introduced into the lan- 
guage by Sterne, and are hardly as old as I am. Let alone 
the Covenanters' days, I am persuaded you would look in 

1 The objectionable word was removed in the second edition. 



1816] FROM LADY LOUISA STUAET 395 

vain for them in the works of Richardson and Fielding, 
authors of George the n.'s reign. Nay, the French, from 
whom they were borrowed, did not talk of le sentiment in 
that sense till long after Louis xiv/s reign. No such 
thing is to be found in Madame de Sevigne, la Bruyere, etc. 
etc. etc. At home or abroad I defy Lord Dundee ever to 
have met with the expression. Mr. Peter Pattieson had 
been reading the Man of Feeling, and it was a slip of his 
tongue, which I am less inclined to excuse than Mause's 
abstruse Scotch, which I duly reverence, as she did 
Kettledrummle's sermons, because I do not understand it. 
Once more I shall be much disappointed if this work does 
not quickly acquire a very great reputation. I fancy Mr. 
Morritt is in the secret ; yet, as I am not certain, I will 
keep on the secure side and not mention it when I write 
to him, however one may long to intercommune on such 
subjects with those likely to hold the same faith. 1 

What you say of the Master of Bowhill gives me great 
uneasiness, and I can perceive that his nearer friends are 
not perfectly comfortable about him. God preserve so 
valuable a life ! 

This is a very hurried letter, but I borrow an hour 
from the night to scribble, being most really thankful to 
you and unwilling to delay writing perhaps for several 
days. — Believe me, your much obliged and very sincere, 

L. Stuart. 

1 Lady Louisa Stuart appears not until after the publication of The 
to have been told the secret of the Antiquary in May 1816. 
authorship of the novels by Scott 



CHAPTEK XIII 

1817 

EDINBURGH AND ABBOTSFORD 



I have lain ou a sick man's bed, 

Watching for hours for the leech's tread, 

As if I deem'd that his presence alone 

Were of power to bid my pain begone ; 

I have listed his words of comfort given, 

As if to oracles from heaven ; 

I have counted his steps from my chamber door, 

And bless'd them when they were heard no more. — 

Harold the Dauntless, Canto'iv„ 



FAMILY ANNALS AND LITERARY WORK 



1817— age 46 



First serious attack of spasms, March. 

Death of Lady Frances Douglas, May. 

Excursion to Rob Roy's country with 
Adam Ferguson in July. 

Rob Roy, 3 vols., published by Constable, 
Dec. 31. 

Visits of Washington Irving, Lady Byron, 
and Sir David Wilkie to Abbotsford. 

Harold the Dauntless, published by Long- 
man in 12mo, in January. 



Ballad, The Sultan o/Serendib. 

History of Europe for 1815. Edinburgh 

Annual Register. 
Introduction to Border Antiquities, 2 vols. 

4to. September. 
Song, The Sun upon the Weirdlaw Hill. 
Contribution to Quarterly Revietv — 

Tales of My Landlord in No. 32, January. 
Kemble's Farewell Address, March. 



CHAPTER XIII 

TO LADY LOUISA STUART. 

Abbotsfobd, January 1st, 1817. 

My dear Lady Louisa, — You will already know better 

than I do that the tales are like Don Quixote — 

" Now their fame is up and may go 
From Toledo to Madrid." 

My private agent reports 4,000 copies sold and 2,000 in 
active preparation, all bespoke ; so that they have come off 
with all acceptation. No circumstance in the matter, how- 
ever, can give me half the pleasure of your Ladyship's kind 
approbation, which I value beyond a whole wilderness of 
critics or monkies either. 1 I hope there is no great harm in 
the lies I am obliged to tell in self-defence, since my secret 
would otherwise be at the mercy of every one who chose to 
ask a blunt question. I very often qualify my denial with 
this statement. It is very diverting how people are divided 
— but from those I have lived much with I cannot escape, 
and they have only the politeness to be silent on the ques- 
tion. I suppose a thousand peculiarities of feeling and 
expression, besides little anecdotes noted in one's mind, 
mark such compositions to those who see much of you. 
In the meantime the mystification of those who would see 
very far into the millstone is sufficiently diverting. 

Morritt is in the secret : you may communicate with 
him on the subject with all freedom. We (an important 
monosyllable, which includes on this occasion my wife and 
me) have been here since the day before Christmas, amidst 
a beautiful succession of snow, hail, rain, flood, and frost. 

1 Merchant of Venice, Act iii. sc. 1. 



400 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Jan. 

Twice the Tweed lias been as high as I remember seeing 
it, and we are nearly forty years' acquaintance (man and 
boy). We live in the little cottage like the memorable 
Cobbler, making it serve for everything but the actual kit- 
chen, and such is the contradiction of human nature, that 
each day, when our only dish is placed on the table, I thank 
heaven that I have escaped the feasting of Edinburgh at 
this jovial season. Yet had any one said " go, do this," I 
suppose I would have consider'd it as a great affront and 
hardship. Is not this among the twenty things in life 
that deserve the title Dryden gave his poem of " The Medal 
Keversed." However, the cottage is destined (if such 
visions of splendour are not reversed in their turn) to rise 
like Rome under the empire of Augustus, who used to 
boast he found the city of brick and left it marble. We 
meditate adding to the old but-and-ben a splendid tene- 
ment to contain an eating-room, and two good little sleep- 
ing apartments with their dressing-rooms, and a book- 
closet for my own use : so that I trust the next time your 
Ladyship comes to Scotland (if there be faith in the 
masons of Galashiels) we will be able to accommodate you 
for two or three days. The outside is rather fantastic, but 
I think will look well, from the irregular combination of 
the various parts of the building. I must not forget to 
thank your Ladyship for your acute and indisputable 
criticism on the application of the word sentimental. How 
it escaped my pen I know not, unless that the word owed 
me a grudge for the ill will I have uniformly borne it, and 
was resolved to slip itself in for the express purpose of dis- 
gracing me. I will certainly turn it out the first opportunity. 
I am going up to Bowhill to-day to see the master, and trust 
I shall find him better. He writes in good spirits, and 
complains less of his cough. . . . Mrs. Scott offers her 
respects, and I ever am, dear Lady Louisa, your very much 
obliged and faithful servant, Walter Scott. 



1817] FEOM LADY LOUISA STUART 401 

FROM LADY LOUISA STUART. 

Chiselhurst, January 11th, 1817. 

Dear Mr. Scott, — Perhaps this is a quicker return of 
fire than you reckon upon, but I want, like a trusty spy, 
to impart all my intelligence. First, let me say though, 
that I feel the value of your confidence and return you 
sincere thanks for it. Thank you a little also for the 
diversion it makes me share, — something similar to one I 
used to take formerly by going disguised to ladies who 
saw masks, in days when, from shyness, I did not love to 
hear the sound of my own voice. Hiding my face set my 
tongue at liberty, and as my habits were always retired, I 
was precisely the last person in London whom my nearest 
friends could suspect of being the mask that teazed them. 
Then came the enjoyment of their different accounts and 
conjectures for a week afterwards ; and if I asked an inno- 
cent question — " Pooh ! it 's a sort of thing you can't enter 
into." You see I have been in training for a conspirator. 

With the same amusement I now sit by the fire, sucking 
in the sagacious remarks I hear. Says one, who has a 
favourite relation that writes — what nobody reads — " I am 
clear this is not by the author of Waverley ; it is too good. 
Waverley was certainly Scott's : now Scott could not write 
this, it is above him, and there is not that constant descrip- 
tion of scenery that makes him so tiresome" — delighted 
all the while to put the unknown author over the head of 
the admireji one. But in particular commend me to the 
story sent us from Scotland ! The murder is out, and it 
does not signify disputing. Mrs. Thomas Scott owns all 
the four books to be hers, with some help from her hus- 
band, and some licking over by her brother-in-law. One 
might reply : — "Verily I think the 'oman be a witch ; indeed 
I do spy a great peard under her muffler." * I could not 

1 Merry Wives, Act iv. sc. 2, 
VOL. I. 2 C 



402 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [Jan. 

help saying to Lady Douglas that most likely Mrs. T. Scott 
had never owned any such thing; but in case it were 
proved that she had, it would convince me they were 
altogether yours, and you had spread the report yourself 
in order to see how absurd a one the world could be 
brought to swallow; since Mother Pratt's peard was not 
half so evident. For I do like the judge who told Barring- 
ton, the pick-pocket, he had tried him as if he had never 
seen his face before. I endeavour to forget that I know 
a word of the matter, so am free to say what I believed 
the first hour I read Waverley, and should have gone on 
believing ever since, had you denied the charge with ever 
so good a grace. I keep to the evidence before me ; and 
how any one who knows you can have a doubt, is past my 
comprehension. Not for the anecdotes — "they're yours, 
were mine, and might be told to thousands" — but the 
little touches, the modes of expression, the slight words 
that raise a picture in one's mind with all the force of a 
long simile, the hints which in the same way awaken feeling 
or excite deep reflection, much more that I cannot de- 
scribe, render it as distinguishable as a man's handwriting. 
And this people every day swear to, without being able to 
explain what gives them the certainty which yet they feel 
they have, that it is John's and not Eichard's. 

I shall not scruple to offer a few criticisms. Earnscliff 
at the beginning of the Black Dwarf hushes Hobbie on 
the subject of his father's death, saying it was never cer- 
tainly known who gave the fatal blow. At the end we 
find the dwarf had been tried for it, found guilty of man- 
slaughter, and suffered the punishment; ergo, no fact 
could be ascertained more clearly. This oversight did 
not strike me at the first hasty reading, nor has it any- 
body else now, the interest of the story so hurries one on. 
I take care not to point it out, but some of the envious 
will hit upon it, and crow. I honestly tell you that neither 



1817] FROM LADY LOUISA STUART 403 

I nor anybody else can bear Miss Buskbody and her novels 
at the end of the fourth volume. If it could but be erased 
from future editions ! And now I will copy part of a letter 
I have just received, without altering a word : — 

" I congratulate you on having had such a good meal 
" as the Tales. I think nothing can be more admirable 
" than the characters, or more so than the closeness with 
" which they are kept up to their original setting out. 
" You never lose sight of the first impression they made 
" upon you ; and on the whole no book of the present 
" day seems to be so universally relished. The subject 
" is disgusting and melancholy ; and though the continual 
" dragging forth of Scripture on all subjects, grave or gay, 
" belongs peculiarly to the sect, and all their descendants, 
" it is very offensive ; and being often done with great 
" humour, will leave a ludicrous impression that may 
" present itself when it should not. But the book is a 
" choice book, and I long to hear your judgement of it." 

I will not be mysterious ; this comes from Mrs. Preston, 
whom you have seen, and who is an unprejudiced person. 
I fear the objection she makes has some foundation, 
though I know nothing can be further from your prin- 
ciples or intentions, and though I can hardly tell how the 
times and subject could be handled without stumbling 
on some such rock of offence. But I dread the outcry 
which those same descendants (as she calls them), who 
are very numerous and very powerful at present, may 
perhaps set up against the work. Its author may fare 
far worse than Lord Byron with all his atheism, for the 
reason given to Louis xiv. why Moliere was persecuted 
rather than the writer of a blasphemous farce — cette 
piece attaque la religion, Moliere joue les d4vots. And 
now I have done fault-finding for myself and others. All 
besides that I have heard is praise; but in general the 
coterie here (I am at Mrs. Weddell's, where we have been 



404 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [Jan. 

reading it aloud) are disposed to think it not by the same 
author as Waverley, etc., and to think it superior to all 
three. I myself place it above Guy and Monkbarns, but 
Waverley being my first love, I cannot give him up. As 
a whole however I believe it does bear the palm, and it 
surprises one by not sinking into flatness after the return 
of Morton from abroad ; which was a very slippery place 
for you, who profess never knowing what you are going 
to write. By the bye, the authoress of one of our best 
novels, remarkable for the striking scene with which it 
concludes, told a friend of mine that this occurred to her 
first ; i.e. she wrote the end, and then made a beginning 
to it, shaped a story to bring it on. Suppose you try the 
same method next time — it. is just Pope's, you know, when 
he wrote the second line of his couplets before the first. But 
in Morton a fresh interest arises, and all is kept perfectly 
alive till Lord Evandale expires, which I would fain call the 
termination. I must mention a remark Mrs. Weddell has 
repeatedly made : " This has the nature of Daniel Defoe's 
novels, tho' with a higher style of writing. I can hardly 
forbear fancying every word of it true." And we are all 
agreed that instead of perverting history, it elucidates it, 
and would give a person partially acquainted with it the 
desire to be more so. But I am afraid the wise young 
people of these days, familiar with hydrogen and nitrogen, 
and Pentandria Monogynia, do not read history at all. 
Indeed, forbye the young, I have met with an established 
Blue-stocking who had never heard of Sir William Temple, 
and seemed only just to have found out there was once 
such a person as Lady Russell. 

This letter is unreasonably long, considering on whom 
I am bestowing my tediousness, but I will not lengthen it 
further with apologies. If you burn it unread, there will 
be no harm done nor anybody affronted. May your build- 
ings and gardens prosper in proportion to your other works, 



1817] FEOM LADY LOUISA STUART 405 

and no Baroness Howe arise in future times to demolish 
them when they are become hallowed objects and classic 
ground ! 1 With my best compliments to Mrs. Scott, believe 
me ever your much obliged and sincere, L. Stuart. 

TO THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH. 

Edine,., 22nd January 1817. 

My dear Lord Duke, — Many thanks for Tom Hutson's 2 
Minstrelsy, which I never heard before, and quite under- 
stand. It has a wild poetical turn about it, singularly 
fitted to Tom's occupation, and I think if Campbell 3 has 
a good lilt for it, I will endeavour to patch it up with a 
verse or two in the same tone. Your Grace (or Tom) has 
made no mistake as to win, but as to break in the second 
line, which should be brook or bruik, signifying in old 
Scotch and northern English to enjoy, for which it is 
used as a synonym in our law as " to bruick or enjoy a 
farm." The word brook is still used in English in an 
oblique sense. I cannot brook it, i.e. endure it, or rather 
relish it. The moor-cock therefore gives his solemn oath 
" He cannot brook the carle's win." 

He cannot, that is, relish the carle's (churle's or husband- 
man's) mode of living — win being equivalent to wene, 
habit of life — or perhaps win, mode of acquiring gain. 
The point turns upon the preference given to a mountain 
life and scenery, in which I think your Grace coincides 
with your vassal the moor-cock, although perchance that 
tribe may occasionally rue your similarity in taste. 

I said nothing about the Eecords in the scroll of a Com- 
mission, 4 but e'en put the saddle on the right horse, at 

1 Pope's villa at Twickenham, 4 The Commission appointed by 
demolished by Lady Howe. the Regent to search for the Scot- 

2 A favourite keeper of Duke tish Regalia in Edinburgh. The 
Charles. warrant was issued in October 1817 

3 Alexander Campbell, Scott's old and the investigation made on Feb- 
teacher. See Life, vol. i. p. 73, n. ruary 8th, 1818, when the "Honours 



406 SCOTT'S FAMILIAK LETTEES [Jan. 

least on the right hobby-horse, setting forth the lodging 
of the Regalia, and the reasons there were to suppose 
said Regalia were deposited in said chest, and the pro- 
bability that said Regalia had suffered or might be suffer- 
ing damage by remaining unexamined for such a length 
of time, and therefore issued " our sovereign will and 
pleasure to open said chest and examine the state of the 
Regalia, if therein found, and report thereon, that our 
pleasure may be made known in the premises," and so 
forth, in good set terms. 

Now to the danger of the quests : — the Mob we need 
not fear, for it is a solemn article of the treaty of Union 
that the Regalia are never to be removed from Scotland. 
And as to the Devil — hang him, foul collier, as Sir Toby 
says. 1 Besides, it would be hard if between the authority 
of the chieftain and the magic of the minstrel of the clan 
we cannot borrow Michael Scott's conjuring book ; and so 

" Devils all, as swart as pitch, 
Be ye cock-tail'd, be ye switch, 
Be ye horn'd, or be ye poll'd, 
To defy you I am bold." 2 

I have a curious manuscript song (a most perfect blast) 
which I copied with many others from an old manuscript 
at Arniston, upon the lodging of the Regalia in the Castle ; 
if it could be set to music and solemnly performed before 
the big- wigs of the law, when they set forth to seek for 
the royal treasure, it would have a striking and novel 

of Scotland " were found in perfect "My dear Scott, Hinves has just 

preservation in the great oak chest. broken in upon me with the follow- 

See Scott's Miscellanies, vol. vii. ing exclamation : ' Lord ! sir, to 

and Life, vol. v. pp. 273-283. think that Sir Walter Scott should 

i m ;ai *t. i, a i. ••• o a Stea l tne tw0 Dest lineS 0ut °* mV 

* Twelfth Nzght, Act m. Sc. 4. <f ^^ ^ as swart as ^^ ^ 

2 Scott in his Devorgoil, pub- and put them into the Doom of 

lished in 1830, varied two lines of Devorgoil and never to make an 

this elegant quatrain — {Poetical acknowledgment of their being 

Works, xii. p. 213), — and was thus mine ! ' How you will answer this 

humorously taken to task by his I know not." — See Journal, vol. ii. 

friend Rose for the plagiarism. p. 186 — David Hinves. 



1817] TO THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH 407 

effect. The chest ought not to be heavy — there is nothing 
stated to be lodged in it but the crown, sceptre, and sword 
of state — none of them very weighty articles. I think it 
most likely they are still there; the removal of them 
would have inferr'd dire responsibility ; nor have our sove- 
reigns since Queen Anne's time been so hard pushed as 
to pawn the Crown jewels, which could have been the 
only purpose of abstracting them. It is very true there 
is a crown shown in the Jewel Office in the Tower, London, 
called the Scottish Crown, but no notice of the sword and 
sceptre which must have accompanied them. Should these 
Regalia be returned non sunt inventa, I will believe that 
the said sceptre and sword went to pay the knowing cut- 
purse who, like Hamlet's uncle — 

" From the kist the precious diadem stole, 
And put it in his pocket." 

Our friend Lord Clerk Register has been very unwelL 
I think he may give the Lord of the Merse another chance 
one day. I trust this will find your Grace safely arrived 
at Bowhill, to which I propose to bring my cargo of old 
iron as soon as I learn you are settled. I hope Lady 
Margaret is quite stout again. — Ever your Grace's most 
truly faithful, Walter Scott. 

I am about to sign my name three hundred times for 
variety's sake, in order to attest officially a set of the 
papers in your Grace's appeal for the process before the 
House of Peers. 

FROM LADY LOUISA STUART. 

London, February 10, 1817. 

Dear Mr. Scott, — Mirror of prudence as I am, I 
deferred my thanks for Harold 1 till Mr. Morritt came 
to frank them, for fear of being asked, "What can you 
be so often writing about to Walter Scott ? " I do not 

1 The poem of Harold the Dauntless, published anonymously in January. 



408 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Feb. 

think the name signifies a farthing ; it is fantastic in Lord 
Byron, but natural here. You have looked at the work 
yourself as painters say they sometimes do at their canvas 
till they see nothing rightly ; lay it by for a twelvemonth, 
and then coming to it fresh, I am sure you will like it 
better, for it has the true stamp and is no degenerate 
child of its father. But I would apply to you Mason's 
epithet for Dryden (tho' not in the same sense) " tuneful 
spendthrift !" You have flung thus to the winds the 
rich materials of a poem that might make another man's 
reputation. Were Harold's conversion more gradual, had 
you had patience to dwell upon the workings of his mind, 
to soften his heart by degrees into humanity, what a 
noble subject! As it is, however, it will do for me. I 
must mention my favourite passages — in one way, the 
whole portrait of Witikind, in another, that of Metelill 
and the gay beginning of the 2nd Canto. The signing 
the cross and letting fall the mace in the fifth. The 
whole of the scene at Durham, but especially Vinsauf and 
Walwayn, and that description of the rich man's feelings 
towards his physician — " Which oft was thought but ne'er 
so well expressed." 1 Surely all these, and more, are beauti- 
ful and original. I shall not deny perceiving something 
of the huddling you acknowledge : perhaps the page did 
not himself suspect he was ever to become a woman, when 
he began like a genuine page with so many roguish tricks, 
stealing purses and mantles, and scampering off on the 
bishop's palfrey ? By the by, I am pleased with the little 
kind word dropped in favour of my old acquaintance, his 
present Right Reverend, to whom the world never likes 
to do justice, because he has (or had, for he has almost 
outlived it) a very slight harmless tinge of the coxcomb, 
mingled with a thousand excellencies, generosity and bene- 
volence almost unbounded, and the humour of impartiality, 

1 Pope's Essay on Criticism. 



1817] FROM LADY LOUISA STUART 409 

bestowing the preferments in his gift upon piety, or learn- 
ing, or merit of some sort or other, on persons often 
unknown to him. "Oh but (say they) he has a vanity 
in doing that." Well then, much good may it do him ! 
It would be a fine world if all the great patrons in Church 
and State indulged the same foible. 1 

I . piously believe what you say of the stubborn Muse 
really existing, who will not come when you do call for her, 
and will come when it pleases herself, altho' I have heard 
a poet give quite another account of the matter — but then, 
it was quite another kind of poet — old Mr. Hoole, the 
translator of Ariosto, and who once fell in my way near 
thirty years ago. He was a clerk in the India-House, a 
man of business of that ancient breed, now extinct, which 
used to be as much marked by plaited-cambric ruffles, 
a neat wig, a snuff-coloured suit of clothes, and a corre- 
sponding sobriety of look, as one race of spaniels is by 
the black nose and silky hair. " When I have been long 
otherwise employed, and out of the habit of writing verse," 
said he, " I find it rather difficult, and get on slowly : but 
after a little practice I fall into the track again ; then I can 
easily make a hundred lines in a day." Just as I might 
reckon how many seams I could sew when my hand was 
in ; and probably the act was full as mechanical. Yet no 
poet, living or dead, not even Mr. Hoole, with his method 
and cambric ruffles, ever had so much sterling common 
sense as yourself, and a good proof of it you give in re- 
solving never to read the squibs thrown against you. I 
am glad you are so indifferent about the wrath of the Unco 
Guid, as Burns calls them. You have no notion what a 
strong and increasing body they are in this country, and 
how much resemblance they bear to the gentry described 
in Old Mortality — chiefly in a certain odd, unaccountable 

1 The allusion in Canto iv. to the Bishop of Durham, the venerable 
Shute Barrington. 



410 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Feb. 

tendency to the factious side in politics, from which you 
would think methodism calculated to keep them aloof. 
" Aye ! aye ! the fellow was well hissed in the park," 1 
were the decent words uttered on the late occasion by a 
devout young gentleman of the right faith, who had how- 
ever just taken orders in our church (professedly wishing 
it destroyed), and was come up to town to solicit the 
minister for a living; but his joy could not be contained. 
I agree with you in thinking the open outrages proceeded 
to a good thing. I can remember the riots of the year 
Eighty. We passed a tremendous week, but it kept us 
quiet for the ten years following ; all the people who in 
Seventy-nine, had thought it a good joke to set the mob 
upon the ministerial houses, for joy of Admiral Keppel's 
acquittal, drawing in their horns most visibly as soon as 
they saw with their eyes what sort of a wild beast it was 
when thoroughly let loose. The change of tone and lan- 
guage was very striking, and the same individuals, I 
believe, never promoted mobbing again. A different race 
had arisen by the time of the French Revolution. The 
newspaper to-day tells us of arrests for treason, but only 
poor miserables. I wish some good-sized fish could be 
caught in that net, — always provided the proof be such 
as to bear out the accusation, for otherwise it does harm 
and is a weak measure ever to bring forward that great 
word. I wonder what possesses me to descant thus ! I, 
who pique myself upon being the only old maid, having 
no business whatever with politics, who forbears to take 
them particularly into her cognizance. 

" Have you read the Tales of my Landlord ? " continues 
to be the first question everybody asks one. Here, some 
of its greatest admirers are quite confident that it is not 
by the same author as Waverley, and give very good 
reasons for their opinion. Not so our two friends of the 

1 The Regent was highly unpopular at this date. 



1817] FEOM LADY LOUISA STUART 411 

two houses of Buccleuch and Douglas; conjecture is at an 
end with them, because they know who wrote it: your 
sister-in-law has owned it a joint undertaking, and there 
is an end. So, to my great diversion, they all write me 
word how well they can trace the difference of hands, — 
point out exactly where the weaker pen was laid down 
and the stronger taken up. It is amazing to me that 
Lady Douglas should overlook what I thought a most 
daring step of the author's — the next thing to his own 
signature; I mean the very name (invented by herself, 
I believe) of her daughter Fanny's poor little dog Elphin. 
But not one of them takes any notice of it. 

My dear Mr. Scott, you are very good to me, but am I 
not very bad to you, in repaying your precious gifts with 
such unreasonable long letters ? Nothing forces you to read 
them though. I shall end this after I have rejoiced with 
you at the amendment I hear of in the Duke of Buccleuch's 
health, and mentioned that friend Morritt looks very 
well. He encountered a far greater danger in his journey 
up than in all his travels before. That he, his eldest niece, 
her governess, and a servant who was on the dickey, 
should all have escaped perfectly unhurt, is what could 
scarcely have happened to any four cats in the same 
situation. He will tell you the particulars himself, I dare 
say, and the story will make you shudder. Pray give my 
best regards to Mrs. Scott, and believe me, your heartily 
obliged, and very sincere, L. S. 

TO TERRY. 

. . . My brother has sent me a curious knocker from 
Canada, the foot of a deer which he had killed, mounted with 
silver. We must dispose that on one of the doors within, 
as it might tempt our border honesty if left out of doors.. 
I have an idea of opening the private door between my 



412 SCOTT'S FAMILIAB LETTERS [Feb. 

study and the dining-room by means of a deer's foot on 
the principle of " pull the bobbin and the latch will come 
up." I have two deer's legs, tokens of hill sport many a 
day since, which might be brass-mounted and adapted to 
such purpose. By the way, I have got over my Waterloo 
armour — two sets of cuirasses and a ponderous cap. . . . 

... I am truly glad Mrs. Terry is coming round again. 
In such cases, I am a great friend to those ancient and 
established doctors, — Dr. Diet, and Dr. Quiet, and Dr. 
Merriman. I will be cautious in speaking on the subject. 
for fear of alarming her friends in York Place, ... I have 
availed myself of Mr. St. Aubyn's permission and changed 
Marmion's name (in respect of his inky cloak) to Hamlet ; 
he promises great things. Old Double, the quondam 
Marmion of St. John Street, is not only dead, but for- 
gotten, for James has got a little buntin baby, and struts 
about " as great as the Prince of Conde," as the song says, 
raising the eye to the ceiling and meditating the grand 
mathematical proposition how one and one can make 
three. Do you think a commodity of real old stained 
glass can be picked up in London ? . . . 

TO THE SAME. 

Abbotsford, Feb. 21, 1817. 
... I understand Maturin is bringing [out] something 
tremendous in the way of a melodrama. Shall we see 
you and Mrs. Terry and young Walter this summer ? I 
have in my offer, and think I shall buy it, an ebony 
cabinet six feet wide, which would just fill the place 
where the book press now is in the little drawing-room. 
All my planting is now really over, but I have had 
upwards of twenty hands working all winter, which I am 
old-fashioned enough to think is a better thing than if 
I could have given each of them suffrage for a Member 
of Parliament ; and what is more uncommon, the people 



1817] TO TEREY 413 

think so too. I have not allowed one man in the parish 
to ask work in vain, and must have been half ruined but 
for certain things you wot of. 

FROM JOANNA BAILLIE. 

London, February 21s£, 1817. 

My dear Sir, — I enclose to you a letter which I 
received from Lady Byron yesterday, and regret that any- 
thing I have to communicate to you, or anything I have 
to say immediately from myself, should give you pain, as I 
know such things must do to a heart like your own. 

The amiable and candid view she takes of your motives in 
reviewing, as you have done in the Quarterly, Lord Byron's 
late works, is not the effect of prudence and deliberation, 
but was the immediate fruit of her own sweet and forbear- 
ing nature. I saw her, just after she had read the Review} 
not knowing who was the writer, and she well perceived 
the use that will be made of it against herself. The next 
time we met, a few days afterwards, she told me she was 
informed the article was written by you (which I was not 
willing to believe), but added that tho' it was calculated to 
give an unfavourable impression of her to the world, she 
believed it was written from a generous desire to befriend 
Lord Byron, and honoured you for your motives. She soon 
returned to the country, and has I suppose met with friends 
who have viewed the publication in a very mischievous 
light, which has induced her to send you this message, 
for when she left me she hinted at no such intention. 

There is nothing which the world can pretend to censure 
in Lady Byron but that she is supposed to be of a very 

1 Of this article by Scott in the out, not only with regard to me, 

31st No. of the Review Byron said : but to others, which, as it had not 

' ' The perusal has given me as much been observed elsewhere, I had till 

gratification as any composition of now doubted whether it could 

that nature could give, and more be observed anywhere." — Moore's 

than any other has given ; . . . Byron, royal 8vo, p. 342. 
there is a tact and delicacy through- 



414 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Feb. 

cold and unforgiving nature. That she is a woman of great 
self-command I know, and where this is the case we cannot 
well judge of the degree of feeling; but I never in the 
whole course of my life met with any person of a more 
candid or forgiving disposition. She has borne treatment 
and wrongs exceeding anything I have ever heard of in 
married life ; and could she [have] hoped for any amend- 
ment in his character, or even without this hope could she 
have continued to live with him without becoming herself 
worthless and debased, she would I am confident never 
have left him. You may perhaps suspect my testimony 
as being partial to her and coming from her, and I know 
not well how to remove the difficulty. I can only say that 
I am most thoroughly convinced of the truth of it, and 
that I hope you will receive what I say with some degree 
of confidence, till you shall find from better authority that 
it is false. Why should I be too ready to think or believe 
ill of Lord Byron ? After the great friendship I have on 
all occasions experienced from yourself, I have not from 
any of the modern poets received stronger proofs of a dis- 
position to serve me than from him. You will remember 
too that when I returned from Switzerland, having heard 
there that he was living with a gentleman and his wife on 
the banks of the lake, how ready I was to suppose he was 
in a respectable house, and to interpret this in his favour. 
But I wish I had been less ready, for I have innocently 
misled you perhaps to think better of him and of his 
personal state than he deserves. Not long after I sent 
you my last letter, I learnt that this same gentleman and 
his wife were a married man who has run away from this 
country, and a girl whom he has seduced, and that their 
house was anything but a respectable one. This informa- 
tion did not come from Lady B. Oh ! why have you 
endeavoured to reconcile the world in some degree with 
that unhappy man, at the expense of having yourself 



1817] FROM JOANNA BAILLIE 415 

perhaps considered as regarding want of all principle and 
the vilest corruption with an indulgent eye? Indeed, 
my good, my kind, my unwearied friend, this goes to my 
heart ! I truly believe that you have done it to cheer in 
some degree the despair of a perishing mind, and rouse it 
to make some effort to save itself; but this will not be. 
You cannot save him, tho' by that effort you ma}^ depress 
a most worthy character, who has been already so sinned 
against, and who bears the deepest part of her distress in 
silence. And now that I am taking the privilege of a 
friend — I had almost said of a mother — to rate you thus, 
let me ask you why you have reviewed Lord B.'s poetry in 
a strain of praise which in my simple opinion is far 
beyond its real merit ? I may not think you insincere, 
and therefore I must even believe that your wits have been 
a wool-gathering. I shall give but one instance of it, as I 
would not prolong my letter. The thunderstorm on the 
lake which you praise as the most sublime description — 

" Far along from peak to peak the rattling crags among, 
Leaps the live thunder ! Not from one lone cloud, 
But every mountain now hath found a tongue, 
And Jura answers thro' her misty shroud 
Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud." 

" And the big rain comes dancing to the earth, 
And now again, 'tis black — and now the glee 
Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain mirth." x 

These familiar personifications give meanness instead 
of sublimity to the description (if description it may be 
called), besides being far-fetched and fantastical. I have 
transcribed these lines from the Edinburgh Review, which 
also greatly praises this passage, but nevertheless my 
opinion is the same in spite of two such high authorities. 
What I should consider as bad in Wordsworth, I can never 
believe is good in Lord Byron. I have many things which 
I was to have said to you about myself, things in which I 

1 From the xcii. and xciii. stanzas of the third canto of Ghilde Harold. 



416 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

would ask your advice, notwithstanding your bad taste in 
poetry, but I cannot speak of any other subject at present. 
I hope this will find you all well in N. Castle Street, and 
send my kind wishes to Mrs. Scott and my young friend 
Sophia. — Believe me always, my dear friend, truly and 
affectionately yours, J. Baillie. 



FROM THE SAME. 

Hampstead, March 3rd, 1817. 
I thought I could not do better than send your pre- 
vious letter 1 to Lady Byron, that you might immediately 
speak for yourself; and I am sure her mind will not 
harbour a doubt as to the honesty and innocence of your 
intentions. It appears to me that you have somewhat 
mistaken the meaning of her letter, which was not to com- 
plain of what you have done, but to prevent you, should 
expressions of strong complaint from her friends reach 
your ears, from supposing they expressed her sentiments. 
I entirely agree with you in your postscript, that it is 
unwise in her friends to be vehement in their outcry against 
Lord Byron; and I am sure they receive no encourage- 
ment in so doing from her ; but you will readily grant that 
it is not easy for those nearly concerned, who see such an 
excellent young creature, with all her large fortune and 
fair prospects, fall a sacrifice to the deliberate, calculating 
selfishness of a man who only feigned an attachment to 
her for his own worldly interest, to refrain from the bitterest 
expressions of indignation. In his poem of the Dream, he 
says he pronounced his marriage vows scarcely knowing 
what he said, his mind filled with another object. How- 
ever, who those vehement friends are I don't know, for 
tho' I am intimate with Lady Byron herself, I am not 

1 This letter from Scott had ap- Joanna Baillie, as it is not in Mr. 
parently not been returned to Baillie's collection. 



1817] FROM JOANNA BAILLIE 417 

acquainted with any of her relations, Sir Ralph and Lady 
Noel excepted. 

The fire-arms or daggers, kept at night on the table of 
Lord B.'s bedroom, Lady B. herself made light of, and said 
that she never supposed they were intended against her, 
tho' he once pointed a pistol at her with threats. I must 
not tell you the darkest part of Lord B.'s character, and 
if I did, you would most likely not believe it. But I will 
give you one trait of him which I may tell, and must be 
believed. In those verses upon the poor governess, he 
represents her as sowing all the mischief between Lady B. 
and himself. This person never entered his house or had 
anything to do between them, till Lady B. was confined of 
her child, and she was then sent for at his sister Mrs. 
Leigh's desire, to take care of Lady B. Now Lady B. was 
resolved to separate from him before her confinement, and 
had taken advice of counsel upon it, at least a month 
before it, and was advised by counsel to stay in his house 
if possible, till after her child was born. But the real 
reason for Lord B. writing these verses was to wound the 
character of Lady Noel, Lady B.'s mother : a most manly 
revenge for any displeasure she might have given him ! 
As for the other matter in your postscript regarding 
pecuniary affairs, it was settled before he left England. I 
thought I had informed you of this ; it was very wrong in 
me not to do so. After refusing for a long time to give up 
a reasonable part of her fortune 1 for the maintenance of her- 
self and child, he was induced to do it from fear, on finding 
that she was possessed of stronger evidence of such matters 
as he wished to conceal, than he had been aware of. This 

1 Byron told Medwin that "all mother in 1822, the division of the 

I have ever received or am likely income was left to arbitrators — 

to receive (and that has been twice Lord Byron being represented by 

paid back too) was £10,000." When Sir Francis Burdett. — Quarterly 

Lady Byron's fortune came into Review, Oct. 1869. 
her possession by the death of her 

VOL. I. 2d 



418 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

is a vantage ground which she will always keep for great 
occasions, tho' trusting to her repugnance to all exposure 
he will still venture to use the language of a man who has 
been hardly used. As to his feelings, were they genuine, 
he could not expose thern to the world in the manner he 
does. That alone would be to me the mark of a hypo- 
critical and vulgar mind. Yes, I say vulgar, gifted tho' 
he be with poetical talents of no ordinary kind. I am but 
little in company, and hear little of what is said in the 
world, but last week in a small assembly of literary people, 
I heard this review mentioned by several people not con- 
nected with Lady B. nor knowing that I was even ac- 
quainted with her, and they blamed it as an attempt to 
cast a lustre over vice, which did not become the writer, 
tho' some allowance might be made for one Poet wishing 
to help out another. I will say but one thing more on the 
subject, and then drop it for ever. You have not told me 
all your reasons for writing this review. It is said in Scot- 
land, " there is nae ganging thro' the warl' without a wee 
tate o' fauset." l Now your " wee tate o' fauset " on this 
occasion I take to be, that the world of reviewers, rating 
Lord Byron's works above their real merit (tho' that merit 
is great), you were afraid by talking of him and them in 
reasonable terms, to be supposed capable of feeling a degree 
of envious rivalship. Had you done justice to your own 
genius, you would not have fallen into this snare : your 
modesty pleads your excuse. Walter Scott has no rival ; 
and he is little better than a Guse Gibbie not to feel 
it more assuredly. But I have forgot to say, adverting 

1 Tate or tait, a small particle : " Middle Earth " : thus True 

fauset from the French faussete ; Thomas in the enchanted Garden 

the proverb in this instance signi- of Elfland, where all questions 

fying that "it is not always politic must be answered with absolute 

to write or speak exactly as one sincerity, declines the apple which 

thinks or feels on a subject. " the Fairy Queen tells him will give 

A little polite dissimulation in him "the tongue that can never 

fact was considered necessary in lie." — Ballad, Thomas the Rhymer. 



1817] 



FROM JOANNA BAILLIE 



419 



again to your postscript, what comes from those who may- 
be supposed to be Lady Byron's friends will often make 
against her; for some of her near relations, who are 
people of the world — Lady Melbourne, for instance — have 
always been her worst enemies ; while on the other hand, 
two of her staunch friends are Lord Byron's nearest 
relations, Capt. Byron and Mr. Wilmot, while his aunt 
Mrs. Byron always speaks of her in the highest terms. . . . 
Since I sat down to write to Mr. Erskine I have re- 
ceived this letter, 1 and shall put it into your cover instead 



1 Kibkby, March 5th, 1817. 

My dear Mrs. Joanna, — I 
should have received unmixed grati- 
fication from Mr. Scott's very kind 
expressions concerning me, had it 
not been for that misapprehension 
of my feelings which has occasioned 
him so much pain. I however 
hope that a re-consideration of my 
letter has removed the impression 
of his having anything to regret in 
regard to them. If, as appears to 
me, he may still reason in part from 
premises which are erroneous, this 
only adds to my sense of obliga- 
tion for his most candid opinions 
of my conduct. I have many 
scruples about occupying any more 
of your time or his, yet I do not 
think that either he or I should 
feel quite comfortable, were I to be 
silent or reserved, after his friendly 
communication. In justification of 
an opinion, formed however inde- 
pendently, I wish to mention that 
the persons who felt most con- 
cern on the subject of that Review 
were Lord Byron's two nearest 
male relations, Mr. Wilmot and 
Capt. Byron — both men of integ- 
rity and judgment, and they had 
personal opportunities of thoroughly 
investigating the motives of Lord 
Byron's conduct towards me, and 



of mine towards him. They are 
therefore a little impatient (not 
sympathising exactly with my feel- 
ings) when it is supposed that any 
apprehensions of irritability, or the 
provocation of a casual estrange- 
ment could have induced me to 
leave for ever a husband whose 
"hatred of hypocrisy" and " inborn 
generosity " must surely preclude 
the ideas of treating a woman with 
studied cruelty, andof sacrificingher 
to vindictive pride and selfish calcu- 
lation. I confess J could not up- 
hold the character of such a wife. 
Sir James Burgess (an acquaint- 
ance of Mr. Scott's), particularly 
represented me in that light, with 
the addition of external influence 
over me, having given credit to 
Lord Byron's story and circulated 
it. He has since acknowledged 
the error, which was to be in part 
excused by his not being admitted 
into our confidence. We had 
wished to keep the business en- 
tirely private. After it was made 
public, I never consented to give 
any currency to the knowledge of 
my deepest wrongs ; therefore, I 
should be the more inconsistent 
were I to "complain " of the con- 
sequences of that voluntary reserve ; 
on the contrary, I have to acknow- 
an experience of kindness 



420 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTEKS [March 

of my epistle to him. Had I received it sooner, I should 
not have troubled you with many things which I have men- 
tioned in my letter. 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

March 11th [Edinburgh, 1817]. 

My dear Friend, — I have been so very ill since I 
wrote to you, that all around expected to have seen the 
last of me. On Tuesday 4th, I had dined at Dalkeith, 
and finding myself rather unwell, I declined to stay all 
night, which is my usual custom in that hospitable family. 
When I came home and got to bed I had a severe attack 
of the cramp, which kept Mrs. Scott up all night, and gave 
me exquisite torment. Yet on the Wednesday, after lying 
in bed till two o'clock — a thing so unusual with me that 
I cannot remember having had occasion to do so for thirty 
years — I thought I might get up to receive some friends 
of my sister-in-law. She had come from Canada on a 
visit to us, and was to leave us the next day, so I could 
not think of breaking up a little family party. About nine 
o'clock, however, pain grew too violent for my stoicism; 
when put to bed (having broken up the good meeting with 
most admired disorder) my stomach rejected every species 
of medicine, and an inflammation taking place, the men 

beyond what could be sanctioned those prospects can never be re- 

by the aspect under which circum- stored. Mr. Scott will neverthe- 

stances have been generally pre- less believe that I shall always 

sented. remember with grateful regard 

Lastly, if ever that change those who have stretched forth an 

should take place which would in arm to save Lord Byron. . . . 

my opinion render the exertions of With my most affectionate re- 

a true and disinterested friend membrance and the best thanks I 

available to Lord Byron's welfare, can give, I conclude yours ever, 

I should feel very much disposed to A. T, Byron. 
offer Mr. Scott such aid from my 

acquired knowledge on some points, Pray use your own judgment 
as might contribute towards mak- about communicating the contents 
ing his zeal and abilities more of this to Mr. Scott, but if sup- 
effective. I do not say this from pressed, pray convey my thanks in 
any view to united advantage — the warmest terms. 



1817] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 421 

of art had recourse to profuse bleeding and liberal blister- 
ing ; this brought the disease to reason after about four- 
and-twenty hours, much of which was spent in such acute 
agony that what intervals of rest intervened felt like the 
sleep of the poor Indian during the intermission of his 
tortures. The medical gentlemen used me as monarchs 
do a rebellious province, and levied such exactions on my 
blood and bones, as I shall not forget in a hurry, I promise 
you. My head is still as giddy as a top, and I have been 
for three or four days endeavouring to get rid of the con- 
sequence of the remedies. I assure you I consider the 
event as a warning, and a lesson to keep — as my old riding- 
master used to say — my horse well in hand, and be pre- 
pared, as well as I may, for the tremendous Halt, which 
must one day stop the career. Two remarkables struck 
me in my illness : the first was, that my great wolf-dog . . . 
clamour'd wildly and fearfully about my bed when I was 
very ill, and would hardly be got out of the room ; the 
other, that when I was recovering, all acquired and 
factitious tastes seemed to leave me, and I could eat 
nothing but porridge, and listen to no better reading than 
a stupid Scottish diary which would have made a whole 
man sick. ... I will not trust myself to say anything 
on the subject of Lady Byron's letter, but I feel a great 
deal. I must say I never heard any one say anything 
to her disparagement, though several have endeavoured 
to palliate and apologise for Lord Byron's conduct — all 
Whigs, by the way. I wish I had been born and bred 
a Whig — it is a saving faith which cloaks many an error ; 
but this will vex you, who need wear no cloak yourself, 
and therefore cannot think how convenient it might be 
for other folks. I have a letter from friend Morritt (a 
great friend of Lady B.'s, by the way), with this postscript : — 
" People here swear you wrote the review on Lord B. in 
the Quarterly; you get great credit by it; I hope it is 



422 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

true. At least it contains your sentiments more than 
those of most others I meet with, and it does credit to 
your good-humour." Now Morritt (who is "Downright 
Dunstable") would not have let this sentence slip him, 
if he could have dream'd of the review injuring Lady B. 
So I am much cheered about this cursed blunder. I will 
lay up your letter and Lady Byron's with much care ; the 
time may come, when we are all dead and gone for many 
a day, when it may be interesting to some one. 1 

To a better subject — your own poems — I am delighted 
to hear of your labours, and particularly at your taking up 
the touching story of Lady Grizzel, with which I have been 
familiar from my infancy from the misfortunes of my own 
'forebears.' My mother's maternal grandfather was Sir 
John Swinton of Swinton, who was an exile in Holland 
at the same time with Lord Marchmont, and my mother, 
who is, thank God, still well and hearty, tells many of the 
singular occurrences as if she had been there herself. 
Lady Diana Scott, daughter of the last Earl of Marchmont 
(Pope's friend), is alive and equally communicative, and 
from some other family connections being far too fatally 
connected with these State plots, I have heard a great 
deal about them, and could almost paint Lady Grizzel. 

1 Byron married Miss Milbanke, with the 6th vol. of the octavo 

2nd January 1815, their daughter edition without comment. In Lady 

was born December 10, his wife left Byron's later years she seems to 

him for her father's house, January have brooded over her wrongs until 

15th, 1816. Their legal separation they took possession of her as mono- 

was completed on April 22, and maniacal delusions. Those who 

Byron left Britain on April 25th, care for more information will find 

never to return. Efforts on the it in two articles in the Quarterly 

part of friends to reconcile them Review (vols. 127 and 128) (1S69- 

were unsuccessful. Byron died in 1870) ; and for Scott's generous and 

1824, and his widow in 1860. For judicious criticism, which was the 

many years Lady Byron maintained cause of the letters here printed, 

a dignified silence as to the cause readers are referred to the Quarterly 

of their separation; but in 1830 she Review, vol. xvi. pp. 172-208, as it 

printed a reply to Moore's Life of is not included in Scott's collected 

the Poet, which is now bound up works. 



1817] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 423 

I will be delighted to see how you will treat this beautiful 
tale of domestic generosity and distress. 1 ... I deny what 
you allege of your unpopularity ; your name stands with 
the highest, and above most who are accounted such, for 
strength and originality of genius. I never heard this 
disputed by any one whose opinion I would give a farthing 
for. . . . The grasshopper is still a burthen to me, and I 
feel tired and giddy with making black lines on white 
paper. . . . — Ever affectionately yours, 

Walter Scott. 

to TERRY. 

Edinburgh, 29th March 1817. 

My dear Terry, — The plans and measurements for the 
iron beams arrived safely. I have just expedited them to 
Paterson. I have been prevented from going to Abbots- 
ford partly by the death of one of my brethren of office, 
whose duty devolves on my shoulders until his successor's 
commission is signed by the Prince Regent, partly by some 
recurrence of my vile spasms, with an oppressive pain in 
my chest and other inconveniences. These are ugly 
twinges, as your friend Lord Ogleby 2 says ; but such things 
come when youth goes and strength wanes. I am, how- 
ever, as anxious about my hall as if it were to be for ages 
my dwelling-place, and thank you kindly for the interest 
you take in it. I intend to be at Abbotsford for certain on 
Saturday, 10th May, so that if I get the result of your 
Sunday's deliberation any day next week I shall have the 
opportunity to talk it over on the spot with my operative 
friends, which will be the greatest possible convenience. I 
shall not, I fear, get out again till after the 12th July, — avis 
an lectenr, which avis intimates that the sooner I can get 
the advice of my counsel learned in the laws of taste the 

1 The Legend of Lady Griseld Baillie. — See Metrical Legends, 1821. 

2 Colman's Clandestine Marriage. 



424 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [March 

more likely I am to profit by them. ... I should like what- 
ever of the woodwork requires care done either here or in 
London. My honest neighbours of Galashiels are excellent 
masons, and have been, since the building of Melrose, 
but very sorry carpenters. I therefore joyfully acquiesce 
in having the windows furnished in London, as far as 
they may be supposed to require any particular neatness 
and care. Staircase and bedroom windows I suppose we 
may find here, as the expense of packing, carriage, etc., 
would be very great in proportion to any advantage 
which could be desired. I am going to despatch to Messrs. 
Longman a small packet for Mr. Atkinson containing a set 
of my poetical labours. He will probably wonder at the 
disproportioned size of my poems and my house, but I 
have Ariosto's excuse : words are more easily put together 
than bricks. I sought everywhere to make up a large- 
paper set, but it is quite impossible, and after all it is the 
ex dono which can alone give value to the volumes. 

I would like, when your counsels are so far settled, to 
know what articles should be finished in London, which here. 
I understand the second (that is, the parlour) story of the 
house is well on. I thought of making the balcony in 
front of the house a verandah of cast iron ; the bars will of 
course be covered with painted boards, which will be re- 
moved in the winter season. Little advantage would arrive 
from making it of [wrought] iron, which would be expen- 
sive, and I think heavy. I have some thoughts of adopt- 
ing the gas-lights should I find on an accurate inquiry that 
they emit no smell. . . . Now suppose I do adopt this mode 
of lighting, I intend to have the principal rails of my 
balustrade cast hollow, and to finish at top with a flewr cle 
lys or thistle with burners. Along the bottom will be a tube 
of communication, which on any rejoicing occasion can be 
filled with gas, and lighting the burners at the top of the 
rails you have an extempore illumination at pleasure. I say 



1817] TO TERRY 425 

this is a whim that floats about my head with other whims, 
and waits for some breeze of approbation to drive it ashore. 
I have some other things to write to you about, but the 
business of the session and this cursed pain in my breast 
is inimical to a prolonged correspondence. I trust I will 
soon get rid of both. ... I have made some progress in 
Ye ken what, 1 but not to my satisfaction ; it smells of the 
cramp, and I must get it into better odour before sending 
it to you. — Most truly yours, Walter Scott. 



TO THE SAME. 

[May 1817.] 
. . . Were you to see Abbotsford now it would confirm 
you in your vocation of planting groves and plantations, 
for our labours begin now to make a distinguished appear- 
ance, and every year will add to them. The banks next 
the house are allowed to have thriven faster than any in 
this country, and make some show, though only between 
four and five years planted. The Counsellor 2 slipp'd through 
my fingers like a knotless thread through muslin, so I had 
no opportunity to charge him with special greetings. . . . 
That you may not think us altogether strangers to the 
drama here, I will enclose you by the first parcel a couple 
of bills for the theatre at Melrose, being for the Lady of the 
Lake and Guy Mannering. By the way, Lis ton's Dominie 3 
is a very fine thing, and does him infinite credit. I saw 
him for a second behind the scenes. I am delighted to hear 
Mrs. Terry is restored to health and to the occupations she 
understands so well, but do not let it amount to fagging. 
The little pickaninny has my kindest wishes. They grow 
up on us fast these young sprouts ; mine you would hardly 
know, the girls are fast becoming young women. Walter is 

1 Bob Hoy, published in December. 3 As Dominie Sampson on the 

2 W. Erskine, Lord Kinnedder. Edinburgh stage in April. 



426 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [May 

taller than I am by an inch ; he is a most beautiful horse- 
man, and I resign my yeomanry saddle and broadsword to 
him this summer, as I do not get on horseback once in a 
month. 

" The eldridge knight gave up his arms 
With many a pitiful sigh ! " 

However, people must grow old or die, which is the best 
apology I have for folks declining in activity or strength. 
. . . Hamlet (ci devant Marmion) turns out a most beauti- 
ful dog, and to judge from his activity in puppyhood will 
maintain the honours of his illustrious descent. — Yours 
truly, W. S. 



TO THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH. 

Abbotsford, 11th May 1817. 

My dear Lord Duke, — It was with equal pain and 
surprise that I yesterday learn'd the melancholy loss which 
your Grace and your family have sustained in the loss of 
my much regretted friend, Lady Douglas, — a loss which life 
cannot easily fill up ; for where are we to look for so much 
sound sense and penetrating judgment, joined to such 
powers of fancy and kindness of disposition, or for wit 
so happily blended with gentleness and good-humour? 
When I last saw her we parted in a place of public amuse- 
ment, and with the hope on my part that I should soon 
enjoy her society for two or three days in the ensuing 
summer. And now I learn, that with all who knew her r 
I must regret her as lost to us during the reign of time. 
As we advance in life, and those whom we most honour 
and value are snatched from us by unexpected strokes of 
fate, it requires some reflexion not to form a conclusion 
that the best and worthiest are earliest called home, and 
to tremble for the friends whom life yet holds among us. 
But it is not so ; the same doom waits us all, and these 



1817] TO THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH 427 

strokes seem most frequent only because they are most 
impressive, and because, while we should hear with com- 
parative indifference the loss of those less marked by 
worth and talents, the death of one so much distinguished 
by both as Lady Douglas seems to form a landmark and 
an era in our life, from which all who were distinguished 
by her friendship are to begin a new career, deprived of 
what afforded pleasure to their past journey in proportion 
to the intimacy which they had the happiness to hold with 
her. It is now many years since Lady Douglas honoured 
me with her regard, and such was my respect for her good 
opinion that I feel I shall have an object fewer in any task 
I may in future undertake, since I can no longer look 
forward to the approbation she so often and so kindly 
conferred. . . . 



TO JOHN RICHARDSON. 

Edinburgh, Monday, 19th May 1817. 

My dear Kichardson, — Many thanks for your kind 
remembrances and the pleasant prospect they give me of 
seeing you in summer. I am always bringing you trouble, 
and what is worse, inefficient trouble, and I fear the ro- 
mantic circumstance which I am going to apprise you of 
will be only another draught on your benevolent patience. 
But it is a story in which you will be somewhat interested, 
and I will give it to you at length. 

About two years ago, a man in the extremity of poverty 
and distress applied to me for work. He had ten chil- 
dren, he said, and was nearly starving. Finding that his 
character was good, I did employ him in such work as 
his exhausted strength permitted him to undertake, and 
having been bred a nurseryman, he was able to do many 
little things, though not in Tom Purdie's phrase " to work 
a day's work" It seemed to me that this poor devil was 



428 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [May 

really marked out for a butt for misfortune to shoot at. He 
fell on the ice at one time and injured himself greatly ; at 
another he had a slow fever ; at a third a rock fell on him 
from the quarry, and nearly smashed his hand off; and the 
scarlatina has been perpetually wrestling with one or other 
of his ten children — one down, t'other come on. The very 
servants called him par excellence " the poor creature." I 
do not know whether fortune has reserved, as a final blow, to 
hold out to him a Pisgah prospect of great wealth, and then 
puff the vision away, or whether she intends to make a 
real fortunate youth out of poor Aitken, but there is a 
large property of an intestate merchant of London in 
which there seems to be a considerable chance of this 
man having some interest. The father of this man had 
a younger brother bred a gardener, and who left this 
country early for the West Indies. His name was George 
Aitken, and my pauper says that he is named after him. 
He returned to London a great many years since, certainly 
much above twenty, wrote to his brother from London 
more than once, and sent them a trunk with presents. 
But none of these letters have been preserved, though 
perhaps should it prove worth while, something might 
be found out concerning them ; and I believe the exist- 
ence of George Aitken and his departure for the West 
Indies, also the fact of his returning and settling in London, 
could be established. This however would be a very im- 
perfect step towards proving the identity of my labourer's 
uncle with the defunct. I hope you will be able by looking 
over the enclosed letter to me from my very sensible Sherifi- 
Clerk, Andrew Lang, to obtain without much trouble the 
information which he points at, and I will reimburse any 
of the necessary expenses. As the body is under my 
banner, I would not like him to lose any right which 
he may actually possess, at least for want of a little 
ino^ury. 



1817] TO JOHN KICHAEDSON 429 

Many thanks to you for your classical efforts on behalf 
of John Kemble. 1 I am informed the medallion is most 
beautiful. I hope we shall soon have some merry days on 
Tweedside. — Ever yours most truly, Walter Scott. 



TO MORRITT. 

Edinburgh, 21th May 1817. 

My dear Morritt, — I have been pretty well, thanks 
to your kind interest and inquiry, — I might say very well 
but for an attack of the cramp, which I had in consequence 
of eating butter-milk with my oatmeal porridge, but I 
soon got over it, and shall take it for a warning to meddle 
as little with acids as I possibly can. I suppose this gave 
rise to a report that I had had a relapse, which fortunately 
has not been the case. I spent about a month at Abbots- 
ford, — cold backward weather, and the young plantations 
suffering for lack of rain : we have had a fine seed-time, 
however, and please God to send us warm weather 
we may look for a good crop, an event to be devoutly 
prayed for. 

Pray let me have your pamphlet on the Poor-rates, so 
soon as it is out. It is an Augean stable ; it is the very 
canker in the bosom of the country, and no small claim 
will he have on the gratitude of Old England who can 
suggest a practical remedy. In general, I think you English, 
both in high and low degree, stand rather too much isolated, 
and too much detached from connections and relationship. 
I own this makes some of the finest points in your 
national character, — your high spirit of independence, your 
freedom from prejudice and partial counsel, and the free 
exercise of your judgment on all occasions, without fear or 
favour. But I think it has corresponding inconveniences. 

1 Regarding a snuff-box presented to Kemble by his admirers in 
Edinburgh. 



430 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [May 

In Scotland men of all ranks, but especially the middling 
and the lower classes, are linked together by ties which give 
them a strong interest in each other's success in life, and 
it is amazing the exertion which men will make to support 
and assist persons with whom you would suppose them 
connected by very remote ties of consanguinity, and by no 
other link whatever. They have in the lower ranks a 
wholesome horror of seeing a relation on the Poors' roll 
of the parish ; it is a dishonour to them in all cases, and if 
they are in close relationship, as parent and child, or 
brother and sister, it is such a blot on their moral char- 
acter, that the Communion has been refused to those who, 
having the means, did not prevent such a circumstance. 
Hence, in most parts of Scotland, Poor-rates are not very 
grievous, but in those abominable manufacturing districts 
they are little better than English, without English inde- 
pendence to make amends for this hard-heartedness. It is 
evident also that Poor-rates, when the recurrence to their 
assistance becomes matter of common course, strike at 
the very root of industry and providence ; for if you do not 
give Hob parish assistance till he has not a crown left, 
Hob will be a great fool if he works for more than he can 
help, or spends a farthing less than his whole wages by the 
time Saturday night comes round. This is a sad tempta- 
tion, and I do not well see how it can be done away. I 
have been attending practically to the effects of the 
various modes fallen upon to employ the poor, and I think 
I see some of them are of a kind to make irreparable havoc 
with their habits of industry, notwithstanding the excel- 
lent intentions of those by whom they were promoted. 
For instance, a large subscription was raised in Edin r by 
means of which 100 or 200 men were set to make a walk 
round the Calton. To prevent persons from coming to be 
employed on this job who could get work elsewhere, 
the wages were fixed so low as lOd. and a shilling, with 



1817] TO MOKRITT 431 

some extra allowance to those who had families. But so 
far were they from feeling grateful for this species of as- 
sistance, that they seemed unanimously to agree, 1st, that 
the wages were mere charity, and therefore dishonourable 
to the acceptors ; 2d, that the rate of wages (considering 
their pay as such) was an imposition upon them ; 3d, that 
it was a bonus or solatium paid to them by the gentry, to 
prevent their rising and righting themselves at the ex- 
pense of the aristocracy. And with these various views 
of the transaction, I declare to you that one good labourer 
whose heart was in his task would have wrought harder 
than any of those grumbling faineants ; and when young 
fellows were so employed, I consider their education to 
be as much improved as if they had been working a turn 
with the convicts. These observations refer, it is true, 
to the mob of a corrupted and large city. But it is evi- 
dent to me, that unless you can make it the interest of 
labourers to exert themselves, and make what we call a 
day's work, they acquire very bad habits by being em- 
ployed in this manner, and that the best way is to allot 
the work to them by the piece, taking care not to fix it so 
low but what an industrious man might make wages of it. 
The man then works with his whole heart and strength, 
and reaps the benefit of his labours, or if that benefit prove 
to be small, he has at least maintained the habit of honest 
and bona fide labour. 

I need not say how much I sympathise with you on 
the subject of Lady Douglas's death, — to me a most unex- 
pected event. She was at Dalkeith in the second week 
of March, and came to Edin r to see Kean. I handed her to 
her carriage, and thus we parted at the door of a place of 
public amusement, not to meet again on this side of eter- 
nity. So does this transitory world glide away from under 
us with all its pleasures and enjoyments. I dare not write 
to Lady Louisa, and yet I must, after I see the Buccleuch 



432 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [July 

family, which will be this day. I am well aware what a 
cruel blow she has sustained ; indeed it seems to me, that of 
all the persons I have known, Lady Louisa has been most 
frequently under affliction from the loss of friends ; rarely 
out of mourning, and formed too for suffering so acutely 
under these recurring blows. . . . 
As for Jedediah, 

" The creature 's at his dirty work again." 

But all this I will write to you about another time. 1 I 
sincerely hope to get over the march to Rokeby this season, 
which I may do the more easily as the workmen will make 
residence at Abbotsford [disagreeable]. Nota bene, most 
of this letter was written on Wednesday last. Charlotte 
and all the bairns salute you. Walter gets another dog 
to assist Trout, conditionally that he learns his Tacitus 
thoroughly against the 12th of August. — Believe me most 
truly yours, V/ alter Scott. 



TO THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH. 

Edinr., 9th July 1817. 

My dear Lord, — I have an unexpected opportunity 
of augmenting my retinue to Drumlanrig with no less a 
person than the renown'd Adam Ferguson. As I know 
very few men that possess equally the powers of giving 
and receiving amusement, and as your Grace seemed as 
if you would like to see a little more of him, I will 
be disposed to embrace this opportunity of making him 
better known to you, unless anything should render 
another time more convenient. It is not prudent to 
proner any one whom we desire should be agreeable, but 
I think I am pretty sure of my card in the present in- 
stance, otherwise I would not lay it down (for I deny the 

1 Bob Hoy, 3 vols., was published in December 1817. 



1817] TO THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH 433 

American visitor). Besides, the father of the said Adam 
(the celebrated philosopher and historian) was always a 
welcome guest at Dalkeith. 

On Monday, I propose to be on the Braes of Glen- 
falloch at the head of Loch Lomond, and on Wednesday 
steer my course towards Drumlanrig with my wife, Sophia, 
and the aforesaid Adam. 

I am sure your Grace will acquit me of any wish to 
thrust my own friends upon you, but I really wish you 
to see this singular person, although I should lose my 
reputation (as I flatter myself I possess some) of being 
senteur and diseur in ordinary to the House of Buccleuch, 
as well as their born minstrel and devoted friend. 
I have just seen Maconochie, who insinuates hopes. 
But Mac was always sanguine, and I hardly dare trust 
myself to think on the probability of my arriving when 
your Grace has had the news of being really Lord of 
Linne, and free to cut and carve and mark your line of 
enclosure. . . . 

I have a humble request for your Grace, if you can 
gain the lawsuit, which, as Satchells says, 1 ought to be the 
better for all poor friends — 

" It is not gowd, it is not gear, 
It is not lands, nor far nor near," 

but it is a draught on your patience, as well as your purse, 
and is nothing less than your picture to hang in my long 
room at Abbotsford, now building, 

" To shine the bright palladium of the place." 

Pray think of this ; you should sit for your own family, 
and a copy will gratify me beyond description. — Ever your 
Grace's truly obliged, Walter Scott. 

1 Captain Walter Scott's True History of Several Honourable Families, 
4to. Edinburgh, 1688. 

VOL. I. 2 E 



434 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [July 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

Drumlanrig Castle, July 24, 1817. 
My dear Friend, — Many thanks for your kind letter, 
which follow'd me hither from Edinburgh. I had a 
recurrence of my spasmodic attacks in the stomach, 
though I am a good boy and do upon the whole as Dr. 
Baillie was so kind to recommend. Since the rise of 
our Courts, I have been at liberty to take a little tour, 
and to make a little run up to the head of Loch Lomond, 
which I feel myself much the better for, as my life in 
Edinburgh is necessarily very sedentary. I have been 
for some time with my chief in this magnificent old castle, 
where one would require a plan to guide you from tower 
to tower, gallery to gallery. The late Duke of Queens- 
berry cut down the magnificent woods which once sur- 
rounded Drumlanrig, but there are already four hundred 
acres replanted, and the Duke proposes to extend them 
to upwards of a thousand. At his various seats this hard 
winter he has employ'd daily upwards of nine hundred 
and forty labourers, at the expense of £70 per day. This 
is something better than hoarding useless thousands, or 
squandering them in profuse living, or losing them at 
games of hazard. . . . 

Sophia is much honour'd and obliged by your remem- 
brance, which she deserves as far as gratitude for your 
kindness can render her worthy of it ; she will not, I think, 
be much taller, but she has great health and spirits and 
a very good temper. My son Walter ... I have some 
thoughts of taking with me to France and Italy next year, 
if I can make out a long projected tour in those countries; 
methinks I will not die quite happy without having seen 
somewhat of that Rome of which I have read so much. 
This year promises a fine harvest, and the poor folks are 
particularly favoured in a copious supply of the finest 



1817] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 435 

potatoes, which, if our good weather continues, will be 
soon in the market. They merit all this, for their distress 
has been extreme, and they may be said to deserve it, for 
generally speaking they have borne severe privations with 
great patience. On Saturday night I will be at my poor 
kingdom of Abbotsford, where I hope to find my subjects 
rejoicing at the expected return of plenty. The pasture 
grass is far more plentiful than I ever observed before, so 
that there is a profusion of verdure upon the hills and the 
meadows which belongs to a better climate than poor auld 
Scotland. I send you this disjointed chat amidst a great 
clamour of preparation among the young and the old for a 
sally to some remote place among the hills, where we are 
to dine on the turf. What would I give that you were 
with us, only they are singing so many Jacobite songs that 
it is thought the full-length pictures of King William and 
Queen Mary, which hang in the ante-room, will walk out 
of their frames like that in the Castle of Otranto, and march 
off in their royal robes to some mansion where their canvas 
ears may avoid being shock'd with such sounds. I beg my 
kindest compliments to Mrs. A. Baillie, the kind Doctor 
and his lady, whose MS. of Columbus is so beautifully dis- 
tinct, in all which my wife and Sophia cordially join. I 
am sorry Lady Byron does not extend her tour to Scotland, 1 
as somehow or other I might perhaps have been useful to 
her, which would have given me particular pleasure. I 
trust and hope she would not have refused me the oppor- 
tunity of being so had such occurred. 

I think Miss Edgeworth's last work delightful, 2 though 
Jews will always be to me Jews. One does not naturally 
and easily combine with their habits and pursuits any great 
liberality of principle, although certainly it may, and I be- 
lieve does, exist in many individual instances. They are 

1 Lady Byron after all extended her tour to Scotland and visited Scott 
at Abbotsford in August. 2 Harrington and Ormond. 



436 SCOTT'S FAMILIAK LETTERS [Aug. 

money-makers and money-brokers by profession, and it is 
a trade which narrows the mind. I own I breathed more 
freely when I found Miss Montenero was not an actual 
Jewess. The second tale, Ormond, is excellent, and King 
Corny one of those inimitable sketches which Miss Edge- 
worth alone can draw. The dramatic tales I did not quite 
so much admire; they wanted, from the very plan, that 
variety of description which Miss E. throws into her narra- 
tions. But the Irish-Scotch is most excellent. I would 
have liked to have written the Scotch military musician 
for her in the last drama ; he wants a spice of our pecu- 
liar nationality. But whips crack, wheels rattle, dogs bay, 
and ah is in motion, so I must close up the ' Kiver ' while 
I can get Borthwickbrae to frank it. — Ever, my dear friend, 
most truly yours, W. Scott. 

FROM FRANCIS JEFFREY. 

Edinr., 1st August 1817. 
My dear Scott, — Is there anything very absurd or 
improper in my asking whether you might not be induced 
to write a short account of our friend C. Sharpe's late 
publication 1 for the Edinburgh Review ? My motive for 
asking is chiefly, no doubt, my firm persuasion that you 
could make a better article with very little trouble to yourself 
than anybody else could do with a great deal ; but that 
feeling would scarcely have encouraged me to hazard the 
proposal did I not think that your friendship for the editor, 
or author rather, might dispose you to give him a lift even 
in our quarter, and that you still entertain such sentiments 
towards me as at least to excuse readily anything that 
might imply too great a presumption on your kindness. I 
think the book extremely curious and entertaining, and 

1 The Secret and True History of James Kirkton, etc., edited by C. 
the Church of Scotland, by the Rev. K. Sharpe, Edinburgh, 4to, 1817. 



1817] FROM FRANCIS JEFFREY 437 

the notes, though far too Jacobitical for me, full of talent 
and information. 

If you should feel any dislike to be known to write in 
the Edinburgh Review, I can easily keep your secret, and 
there are many people, though I am not of the number, 
who think that your style does not unmask you. Pray do 
not hastily refuse, if you feel any movement of inclination 
to comply, and at all events let me know that you have 
pardoned the liberty I take in making the application. 

I rejoice sincerely to hear that you are quite stout, and 
enjoying your woods and rivers as well at least as any of 
the Abbots, your predecessors. — Believe me always very 
faithfully yours, F. Jeffrey. 

TO FRANCIS JEFFREY. 1 

Abbotsford, 5th August 1817. 

My dear Jeffrey, — I flatter myself it will not require 
many protestations to assure you with what pleasure I would 
undertake any book that can give you pleasure ; but in 
the present case I am hampered by two circumstances : 
one, that I promised Gifford a review of this very Kirkton 
for the Quarterly ; the other, that I shall certainly be un- 
able to keep my word with him. 2 I am obliged to take 
exercise three or four hours in the forenoon and two after 
dinner, to keep off the infernal spasms which since last 
winter have attacked me with such violence, as if all the 
imps that used to plague poor Caliban were washing, 
wringing, and ironing the unshapely but useful bag which 
Sir John Sinclair treats with such distinction — my stomach, 
in short. Now, as I have much to do of my own, I fear I 
can hardly be of use to you in the present case, which I 
am very sorry for, as I like the subject, and would be 

1 Printed in Appendix to Cock- March that he had laid aside the 
burn's Life of Jeffrey, vol. i. pp. article on Kirkton for the Quarterly 
417-8. Review half finished. 

2 Scott mentioned to Murray in 



438 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Aug. 

pleased to give my own opinion respecting ttie Jacobitism 
of the editor, which, like my own, has a good spice of 
affectation in it, mingled with some not unnatural feelings 
of respect for a cause which, though indefensible in 
common sense and ordinary policy, has a great deal of 
high-spirited Quixotry about it. 

Can you not borrow from your briefs and criticism 
a couple of days to look about you here ? I dare not 
ask Mrs. Jeffrey till next year, when my hand will be 
out of the mortar-tub; and at present my only spare 
bed was till of late but accessible by the feudal accom- 
modation of a drawbridge made of two deals, and still 
requires the clue of Ariadne. Still however there it is, 
and there is an obliging stage-coach called the Blucher, 
which sets down my guests within a mile of my mansion 
(at Melrose, bridge-end) three times a week, and restores 
them to their families in like manner after five hours' 
travelling. I am like one of Miss Edgeworth's heroines, 
master of all things in miniature — a little hill, and a 
little glen, and a little horse-pond of a loch, and a little 
river, I was going to call it, — the Tweed; but I re- 
member the minister was mobbed by his parishioners for 
terming it, in his statistical report, an inconsiderable 
stream. So pray do come and see me, and if I can stead 
you, or pleasure you, in the course of the winter, you shall 
command me. 1 As I bethink me, I can contrive a bachelor 
bed for Thomson or Jo. Murray, if either of them will come 
with you ; and if you ride, I have plenty of hay and corn, 
and a bed for your servant. — Ever yours affectionately, 

Walter Scott. 



1 The result of this application Jeffrey ") in the Edinburgh for June 
was an article ("the first for ten 1818 on Maturin's Women. 
years and written for the love of 



1817] FROM FRANCIS JEFFREY 439 



FROM FRANCIS JEFFREY. 

Craigcrook, 14th October 1817. 
My dear Scott, — I have left your kind letter so long 
unanswered that I have no right to your implicit belief 
when I say that I have seldom received any letter which 
afforded me so much gratification, or any invitation I was 
so eager to accept. The truth is, however, that when it 
arrived I was in a state of high perplexity about going to 
Ireland, and was unwilling to answer it till I could see the 
result, and that project was scarcely blown up when I was 
hurried away, partly by business and partly by folly, to the 
Highlands, — from which I only returned three days ago, — 
and have talked of nothing but paying you a visit ever 
since. I had at one time engaged to go to-day with 
Thomson, but that was first stopped by poor Henry 
Erskine's funeral (from which I am just returned), and then 
by the intelligence that you were yourself coming to Edin- 
burgh for a day or two, to-day or to-morrow. I send this, 
therefore, to your house in Castle Street, just to say that 
if you are to be at home, and will be generous enough to 
receive me any time after next Saturday, I shall be de- 
lighted to spend a day with you on the banks of the Tweed. 
If you could possibly spare me an afternoon here before 
that day, for which I am inextricably engaged, I need 
not say how happy it would make Mrs. J. and me ; but 
I am aware how unlikely it is that you should have any 
hour disengaged in so short a visit. In the meantime, 
and at all events, allow me to offer you my most hearty 
and grateful thanks for the indulgent and most friendly 
manner in which you received my very venturesome 
request, and for the hopes you even allow me to entertain 
that it may hereafter be substantially granted. I am more 
proud a great deal of the personal goodwill to which I am 
resolved to ascribe this gracious reply, than I should be of 



440 SCOTT'S FAMILIAE LETTERS [Sept. 

the compliments of half the peerage, and can only say that 
I think I have partly merited it by having invariably relied 
on it under circumstances that are not always extremely 
encouraging. — Believe me always, dear Scott, your obliged 
and faithful servant, F. Jeffrey. 

Send your answer to George St. 



TO JOHN RICHARDSON. 

Abbotsford, 28th Sept. 1817. 

Certain affairs which you know of have turned out so 
amazingly profitable as to have enabled me to make con- 
siderable additions to this little property, and to undertake 
a still further extension of my wings, which will probably 
soon flap the Eildon Hills. This has given me many 
delightful walks and much important and active employ- 
ment, which is no small object at a period of life when 
country business suits one better than country sports. 
Yet think not but what I still course and burn the water ; x 
the gun I have resigned to Walter, who is a very suc- 
cessful sportsman, and comes home loaded with grouse, 
blackcock, 'and partridges. If I thought it would come 
safe by the Carlisle coach, I would beg Mrs. R's 
kind acceptance of some game; a black-cock from the 
Rhymer's Glen would shine in the second course in 
Fludyer Street. 

When you see Tom Campbell, tell him, with my best 
love, that I have to thank him for making me known to 
Mr. Washington Irving, who is one of the best and 
pleasantest acquaintances I have made this many a day. 
He stayed two or three days with me, and I hope to see 
him again. — Ever, dear Richardson, yours, 

Walter Scott. 

1 " Burning the water " — i.e. spearing salmon by night. 



1817] FEOM WASHINGTON IRVING 441 

FROM WASHINGTON IRVING. 1 

Hawick, Sept. 23, 1817. 

My dear Sir, — I have been excessively disappointed 
in not meeting with you yesterday. It was not my inten- 
tion to have intruded again on your hospitality, for I had 
heard in Edinburgh how much your time has been engaged 
by company of late, but I could not feel satisfied to leave 
Scotland without once more seeing you. I had hoped to 
have had that pleasure at Jedburgh, but was most provok- 
ingly detained all day at Melrose for want of a chaise, so as 
not to reach Jedburgh until after your departure. I can 
only then take farewell of you by letter, which I do with 
a heart full of the warmest sentiments of regard. Sur- 
rounded as you are by friends among the most intelligent 
and illustrious, the goodwill of an individual like myself 
cannot be a matter of much importance, yet I feel a grati- 
fication in expressing it, and in assuring you that I shall 
consider the few days I passed with you and your amiable 
family as among the choicest of my life. 

My tour in the Highlands was delightful. The weather 
was as fine as could be desired, and the scenery beyond 
my expectations. Indeed, everything has conduced to 
make my Scottish excursion one of the most charming 
I ever made. I have met with nothing but agreeable 
people and agreeable incidents ; and I return with a heart 
stored with golden recollections for after years. 

Mr. MacDonald Buchanan was not at home when we 
came over Loch Lomond, so that I did not call at Ross 
Priory, but I had the satisfaction of meeting with him at 
Mr. Jeffrey's a few days since. 

I cannot but express my satisfaction, on calling at your 

1 Washington Irving had been at a farewell call after his Highland 
Abbotsford from August 30th to tour on his way south in Sep- 
September 3rd, 1817, and he made tember. 



442 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 

house yesterday, at being welcomed by my old friend 
Hamlet, and at learning that he and his fellow-culprit, 
Hector, had been reprieved from the " Tyburn Tree," and 
a pony bought for their amusement and reformation. I 
felt so much interested by every moving thing in your 
establishment that I should have grieved had any of them 
met with disaster. 1 

Whether I shall ever have the pleasure of again seeing 
you is a matter of extreme uncertainty, for when once 
separated in this wide world, who can tell if they will ever 
be jostled together again; but wherever I go I shall bear 
with me the warmest wishes for the happiness of yourself 
and your family. 

Present my sincere remembrances to Mrs. Scott and 
the young people, and believe me, my dear sir, very faith- 
fully your friend, Washington Irving. 

TO JOANNA BAILLIE. 

Parliament House, Dec. 12, 1817. 
My dear Friend,— If I were not a bankrupt as a 
correspondent, I ought to begin with a thousand apologies 
for my ungracious silence to the kind correspondent whose 
friendship I so much value ; but I have been so long and 
so often a defaulter in this way, that I think nothing I 
could say would mend the matter, and so I shall " e'en let 

1 Hamlet was the black grey- fine dog, more healthy than I ever 

hound — " the warder of the castle " saw any of the Newmarket breed, 

— who gave Irving a noisy re- and runs most capitally : he has 

ception. What crime the dogs killed several hares already. He 

had committed to merit such a is, moreover, a very funny and 

severe sentence is unknown, — pos- amiable fellow, and is at this 

sibly dangerous ' coquetting with moment gnawing my shoe latchets, 

sheep ' — but that they had been so you see he is in full possession of 

forgiven is shown by Scott's re- the fireside. " 

marks to Terry a few days later : — See Irving's Life and Letters, 

"Hamlet, ci-devant Marmiou, pro- vol. i. pp. 318-322, etc., also Abbots- 

mises most capitally : he is a bold, ford and Newstead, London, 1835. 



1817] TO JOANNA BAILLIE 443 

the flee stick in the wa'." I cannot give you so good an 
account of my health as you, I know, would like to hear. 
My spasms have been frequent and violent, especially 
since the weather set in moist and dark, but they have 
only once come to such a height as to render the use of 
the lancet necessary, as in spring ; so I think, on the whole, 
the complaint may be mitigating its rigour. So runs the 
world away : in youth we seek pleasure, and in manhood 
fame, and fortune, and distinction, and when we feel the 
advance of years, we would willingly compound for quiet 
and freedom from pain. But I should be very ungrateful 
were I to complain loudly, for I know no one who has 
enjoy 'd so many years of uninterrupted good health as 
has fallen to my lot, and so I will e'en submit to the bad 
health which Heaven may be pleased to send me. About 
our dear Miss Edgeworth and her very interesting com- 
munications, I never saw the criticisms she mentions, 
but I am sure if they mention'd my name along with hers, 
I should feel that they did me the highest degree of 
honour, and I am sure I can venture to say as much for 
the anonymous author of the novels, supposing that his 
modesty and good sense bear some proportion to the 
talents he has display'd. ... Do say all you can that 
is kind on my part to Miss Edgeworth, whose genius 
honours us all, as her gentleness and modesty honour 
her genius. I am delighted to hear that her father's 
life is to appear: under her hands it cannot fail to be 
a model of its kind. Did I tell you how much I was 
delighted with King Corny ? Sophia says I am partial 
to him for the great authority he affords for roaring 
when folks are in actual agony. 1 I have been intending 
to write to Miss E. ever since I came from France, and 
I have a half- written letter to shew that my good 
intentions were not wholly ineffectual, tho' interrupted : 

1 See Miss Edgeworth's story of Ormond. 



444 SCOTT'S FAMILIAR LETTERS [Dec. 

certainly, I will not go down to the grave with this 
sin of ingratitude on my head, for after all it is only 
base sloth that makes me fall behind in this sort of 
engagement. I am much more irregular as a correspond- 
ent since my children are grown into companions. There 
is a song, or a lesson, or a something or other going on 
after tea, until " it draws towards supper in conclusion," 1 
and away go the two or three hours used for letter-writing. 
With respect to your views of publishing, I never advise the 
actual sale of copyrights. ... I don't know anything that 
would please me more, except to learn you were bringing 
forth another volume of plays, and I will always live in 
hopes that you will not altogether desert that splendid 
branch of literature, in which no one can hold the candle to 
you. . . . The Bacchanalian song says there is no drinking 
in the grave, 2 and neither are there laurels to give or to be 
worn, and the planting them over those whose better parts 
are far beyond such vanities is but a melancholy, though a 
grateful, task. The applause and honour of our contem- 
poraries is like a feast, to which the author is invited as a 
guest: that of our successors is like the entertainments 
which the ancients spread on their tombs for the refresh- 
ment of the departed spirits. 

I am very glad to hear of Lady Byron being well 
in health, and she would have little to vex her were 
she as agreeably situated as I could wish her. Should 
she be a visitor of Scotland next year, I might hope to 
detain her longer on Tweedside. By the way, Lord 
Somerville (the only person she saw at Abbotsford, so 
far as I remember) was an accidental, and in some re- 
spects a self-invited, guest. We live so near each 
other, that we are much in the habit of unceremonious 
visits, especially on his part, as he is a single man, and 

1 King John, Act i. sc. 1. 

2 See Nanty Ewart's song in Bedgauntlet, W. N., xxxvi. p. 142. 



1817] 



TO JOANNA BAILLIE 



445 



naturally disposed to seek society when the sports of the 
day are over. He expressed himself so anxious to pay his 
respects to Lady B., as an old friend of her family, that 
there would have been a sort of affectation in not asking 
him to come to his dinner; this was the history of our 
having any one except our family when we had the honour 
of receiving Lady B. 1 . . . My wife and Sophia beg all kind 
and affectionate remembrances to you, Mrs. A. Baillie, the 
Dr. and his Lady, and all friends. — Ever, my dear Mrs. 
Baillie, most truly yours, Walter Scott. 



1 On Oct. 22nd Joanna Baillie 
wrote to Scott: "I am glad you 
were so much pleased with Lady- 
Byron. That trait which struck 
you of decidedness of character I 
have often observed, but I believe 
that while she lived with Lord B. 
she was most compliant to his will 
in everything excepting when she 
was required to mingle or become 
an associate of the profligate and 
debased, . . . but nothing would 



satisfy him but the grovelling de- 
votedness of a Gulnare. She wrote 
to me a few short lines just after 
she had been to Abbotsford, and in 
it she told me of your kind reception 
of her. There seems to have been 
but one thing in the day she spent 
with you which she could have 
wished otherwise, viz. , your having 
asked company to meet her, as she 
was in hopes to have found you en 
families 



Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to Her Majesty, 
at the Edinburgh University Press. 




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Familiar letters 



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